Ashli Babbitt’s Violent Past Doesn’t Justify Her Death

The Associated Press published a Monday report on Ashli Bubbitt, the Capitol rioter, who was killed and shot by a cop while trying to get into the Speaker’s Lobby. To counter the efforts of Donald Trump’s supporters to turn Babbitt into an icon, the article claims that Babbitt is “far more complicated” than Trump and his associates portray.

Although it’s true, this is beside the point. Babbitt’s conduct on January 6 proves that she doesn’t deserve martyrdom. Babbitt shouldn’t be digging up stories that aren’t of real news value.

Babbitt was involved in a lengthy affair with her male coworker during her marriage. She also had a long-term partner, Celeste Norris. Babbitt and Aaron Babbitt were later married, having separated from their partners. Babbitt pulled Norris out of her car and rammed it, before getting out to scream through the doors. Norris was later granted multiple restraining order against Babbitt.

The story is salacious but it doesn’t have any bearing on what led to Babbitt’s passing. The events that occurred that day prove that Babbitt was not as pious and morally upright as the ex-president and his followers make her to be. Babbitt was one of hundreds who invaded the Capitol breaking windows and knocking down doors. While lawmakers were being evacuated, Babbitt was part of a group that attempted to open a door to the Speaker’s Lobby. Babbitt was confronted by Capitol Police officers and attempted to climb through a gap in the damaged door. At that point, an officer opened fire, killing her.

Babbitt was a terrible person in the moments leading to her suicide. It is also shameful to mention events that are completely different from Babbitt’s past.

Babbitt’s attempt to recontextualize Babbitt after her death resembles the reverse-hagiographies that are sometimes written about black victims. In 2015, after Sandra Bland was found dead in a jail cell under suspicious circumstances, after initially being arrested for not putting out her cigarette during a traffic stop, the district attorney averred that Bland was “not a model person.” After Michael Brown’s death in a confrontation with Ferguson officers, a year before, The New York Times described him as “no angel.” Some on the right insist Floyd died from a fatal fentanyl overdose. This was despite the fact that George Floyd’s murder by Derek Chauvin in May 2020 has been repeated. therefore“An angel is not a drug addict”

All of those reactions were rightly condemned at the time: Even if the allegations were correct—that Bland was combative, that Brown had a violent history, that Floyd was a drug addict—that would not change the facts of the individual cases, in which police acted wrongly and used excessive force, resulting in these victims’ deaths.

When it applies to black women and men killed by police officers, we must condemn the media tactics. We also need to condemn Babbitt for using this tactic.