On January 6—when a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the United States Capitol in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election—a security officer shot and killed conspiracy theorist Ashli Babbitt as she and the insurrectionists tried to infiltrate the Speakers' Gallery through a shattered window.
In addition to repeatedly dismissing the severity of the Capitol Riots, numerous Republican elected officials, media personalities, voters, and even former President Donald Trump himself leapt to paint Babbitt as some sort of patriotic martyr, co-opting Black activists' use of the hashtag #SayHerName, which had historically been used to memorialize Black women murdered by police.
They falsely claimed Babbitt was the only person killed during the riots, suggesting that the rioters were the ones in real danger. In reality, pro-Trump rioters trampled one of their fellow "patriots," Rosanne Boyland, to death. A wave of Capitol and D.C. Metro police officer suicides also occurred in the days and months following the riots.
But if conservatives working to sanitize the legacy and actions of Babbitt are looking for someone to blame, a recent report suggests they should turn the gaze on their own party—particularly, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
A recent Washington Post report detailing the inside of the Capitol during the hours of the riots reported that:
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham was irate that senators were forced to flee their own chamber. He yelled at the Senate sergeant-at-arms. 'What are you doing? Take back the Senate! You've got guns. Use them.' The South Carolina senator was adamant. 'We give you guns for a reason,' he repeated. 'Use them.'"
While Graham himself has never praised Babbitt or her actions, the Senator's words led some to call out the Republicans working to sanctify her as a patriot.
Soon, conservative conspiracy theorists who lionized Babbitt followed suit.