Family and friends of Ashli Bubbitt, an Air Force veteran who was trying to enter a corridor with lawmakers Jan. 6 when she was shot and killed by Capitol Police, gathered on Sunday to celebrate her birthday and to remember her life. However, the occasion was graced by a prominent sympathizer: ex-President Donald Trump recorded a personal video message in which he expressed solidarity with Babbitt’s cause and outrage.
“To Ashli’s family and friends: Please know that her memories will live on forever in our hearts,” he stated during , the recorded video.
Babbitt was encouraged by a man to go to a “wild” rally Jan. 6, on his behalf, and “show power” to march to the Capitol. He told Babbitt’s family that there was no reason Ashli should have lost her life that day. He said that we all must demand justice for Ashli, her family, and that we continue to call for an impartial and fair investigation into Ashli’s death.
Trump’s tactic is not subtle. He’s making a martyr of the most visible rioter who stormed the Capitol Jan. 6 and continuing to create alternative iconography around the meaning of that day. Trump’s continued devotion to telling the lie that 2020 elections were rigged against him is a way to get his base to see the riot more as a tragedy for freedom fighters than it was the defense of authoritarianism.
Trump has been devoted to Babbitt’s memory for many months. This agenda involves consistent deception.
He claimed she was shot “right through her head”, when in reality she was actually shot in the shoulder. Officers immediately treated her and she died in hospital from her injuries.
He has also repeated the idea that Babbitt’s shooting was ideologically motivated because she was shot for “no reasons.” A Capitol Police officer shot Babbitt for a clear reason. She was trying to climb through a door that led to a corridor where members of Congress were gathered. This was even though a Capitol Police officer used a gun to attack her. He then called for protesters to stop smashing the doors.