The decision by 43 Republican senators to acquit Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial has been condemned by many observers as a racist vote which upholds white supremacy.
The former president was tried this week for his role in inciting the 6 January insurrection at the US Capitol, where his many of his followers waved Confederate flags and wore racist and antisemitic clothing and symbols while storming the building.
In his speech before the riot, Trump exhorted his followers to “fight” the vote and called his mostly white audience “the people that built this nation”. His efforts to overturn the election results concentrated in cities with large populations of Black voters who drove Biden’s win.
Kimberly Atkins, a senior opinion writer at the Boston Globe, tweeted that the mob was trying to stop the votes of Black people like her from being counted.
Atkins said: “When this is done at the urging of the president of the United States, the constitution provides a remedy – if members of the House and Senate abide by their oaths. A republic, if you can keep it. Is it a republic for me?”
The Washington Post’s global opinions editor, Karen Attiah, said: “White supremacy won today.
“History will reflect that leaders on both sides of the aisle enabled white extremism, insurrection and violence to be a permissible part of our politics,” Attiah added. “America is going to suffer greatly for this.”
For Trump to be found guilty, 67 senators needed to vote for his conviction. The former president was acquitted in a 57 to 43 vote on Saturday afternoon. The Senate is 89% white.
After the vote, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, addressed the chamber and said it was an “incontrovertible fact” that Trump was guilty and implored the audience to “remember the hateful and racist Confederate flag flying through the halls of our union” during the insurrection.
Trump’s lawyer, Michael van der Veen, in his closing statement equated the Capitol insurrection with Black Lives Matter protests last summer, repeatedly referring to those demonstrators as a “mob”.
“Black people can’t object to a knee on our necks or kids getting pepper-sprayed, but whiteness protects its own,” the Rev Jacqui Lewis tweeted after the vote. “This is who America is, and it’s who we’ve always been. And we need to decide if we want to be something different.”
A professor of history, race and public history at Harvard University, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, said Trump’s acquittal made Biden’s election look similar to Abraham Lincoln’s 1861 election win, which was followed by the civil war a few months later.
“Trump is now the head of the neo-Confederacy, formerly called the Republican party. This is a party made up of people whose ideological ancestors have always been well represented in all levels government, and society. Let’s be clear, this is an America that has always been,” Muhammad said.
Brittney Cooper, the author of Eloquent Rage: a Black Feminist Discovers her Superpower, said the impeachment trial reminded her of when white juries would rarely convict their peers for lynchings. “Those jurists are political ancestors of the modern GOP,” Cooper tweeted. “It’s shameful, not to mention enraging.
“Also to the liberal white people frustrated as the House managers presented an air tight case against a white supremacist insurrection to no avail, I say: welcome,” Cooper added. “This is what it feels like to scream into the wind. Black folks know it well. As you can see, it truly sucks.”