The Black woman who was championed on social media for punching the aggressive white woman who put her hands near her face has been suspended.
According to published reports, the woman, who was actually a Capitol guard, was terminated after the video of the incident went viral. The police officer, who goes by “Ashanti Smith” online, claimed via the social media account “Griselda Blanco” that she only responded in self-defense towards the protesters, who were both harassing and assaulting her.
In the short clip, which has many dubbing the quick-handed woman a hero, the now former-officer is seen talking to one of the protesters when from the side, the hand of the white woman, who has now been identified by Newsweek as Therese Duke, touches her face.
After Ashanti punched Therese, things quickly escalated after she was grabbed by protestors, as fellow guards tried to escort her away while other Trump supporters are captured in the clip attempting to get some jabs in towards her as well. In the subsequent clip that documented the one-hitter quitter, Therese is seen with blood all over her face as she was being asked “who hit you?”, to which she responded, “that girl punched me in the face, that Black girl.”
After the video was posted to Twitter on January 6, Ashanti has been using social media to share her side of what happened that night, before confirming that after the incident she is relieved from her job pending an investigation.
“Omg so never planned to go viral smh,” Ashanti said. “But yes that is in me in the video. They constantly harassed me and all 3 jumped me. Me hitting her was a reflex. I asked them constantly to stop touching me, following me, and bothering me, they kept surrounding me trying to steal my keys out of my pocket and trying to take my phone as seen in the video. Yes I lost my job. Yes I’m good. I’ll respond to everyone once I get my phones out of property.”
After Ashanti announced that she was suspended for the altercation, a GoFundMe page was created in support of her, which has raised more than $100,00 to date. On the profile, Ashanti gives further details of what happened that night, revealing the incident took place at Black Lives Matter Plaza in D.C. and began after she found herself surrounded by the “Trump extremists” causing her to “honestly fear for her life” due to the group not wearing masks and assaulting her.
“Hello. My name is Ashanti. I am a 28-year-old Black woman who lives in the DMV AREA. I recently was assaulted, attacked and harassed by a group of Trump supporters on Black Lives Matter Plaza in DC on January 5th, 2021. A video has surfaced where I was surrounded by a group of Trump extremists, and I honestly feared for my life,” she said. “The video makes me look like I am the aggressor, but it does not show what happened prior to my defending myself. People shoved me, tried to take my phone and keys, yelled racial epithets at me, and tried to remove my mask. I asked them to social distance and stay out of my personal space due to COVID. They refused, and I was afraid of being hurt and harmed.”
Smith also noted that in addition to being suspended from her job at the Capitol, she’s also facing criminal charges over the event—leading her to ask the public for help.
“After being assaulted, I defended myself. I am now facing criminal charges. I have also been relieved from my employment pending an investigation, which places me in a hardship. I am asking for support and help with funds for my legal fees and to maintain the essential things that I need to survive during this time. Any amount of help is truly appreciated. Thank you in advance.”