Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) complained about racism in the criminal justice system on Tuesday ― in reference to the mostly white defendants jailed for their alleged roles in the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
The far-right lawmaker made a series of accusations during a press conference with fellow extremist Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Texas) and Paul Gosar (Ariz.) to highlight conditions at the District of Columbia jail where around 40 people charged in the Capitol riot are being held as they await trial.
The Jan. 6 defendants make up a small portion of the roughly 1,400 inmates held at the facility, the large majority of whom are Black.
Local officials and activists have long been aware of the jail’s inhumane conditions, and Greene’s report describes human feces and other bodily fluids on the walls of cramped cells. But notably, these problems only recently received attention after Trump supporters held in connection to the riot and their right-wing allies complained about them.
Greene claimed that this small group of mostly white men is being discriminated against “because of the color of their skin.”
“They were isolated in a separate wing of the jail, where they are abused, where they are ridiculed, where they are mocked because of their political beliefs and because of January 6, and because of the color of their skin,” she claimed. “So there is a two-tiered justice system, and these are the things that need to end.”
She also claimed that the defendants are being forced to undergo “critical race theory training” by court-appointed lawyers in order to be represented by them.
“They’re being represented by public defenders that call them white supremacists, tell them they have to denounce President Trump, tell them they have to denounce their political views, want them to watch videos and read books that basically is critical race theory training, in order for them to have this public defender represent them,” she said.
It’s not clear which defendants, attorneys or materials she’s referring to. One D.C. defense attorney assigned to represent indigent Capitol defendants, H. Heather Shaner, told HuffPost in June that she had recommended historical books and films like “Schindler’s List,” “Just Mercy” and “Slavery By Another Name” to her clients to help educate them on ugly parts of U.S. history some of them said they weren’t aware of.
In Greene’s report, “Unusually Cruel: An Eyewitness Report From Inside The DC Jail,” her claims about critical race theory did not center on public defenders, but rather, on the reading materials available to inmates.
“Other parts of the facility revealed an overt and callous education curriculum which emphasized the supposed cruelty and racial prejudice of the U.S. prison system,” the report said, criticizing books appearing to highlight issues similar to the ones she was raising.
The two books cited were “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander, and “Unusually Cruel: Prisons, Punishment, and the Real American Exceptionalism” by Marc Morjé Howard.
The first book explores Alexander’s argument that “we have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it,” an assertion that does resemble the tenets of critical race theory that racism is entrenched in U.S. systems and institutions.
The second book ― which Greene appears to have titled her report after ― explores the harshness of the U.S. criminal justice system.
Conservative politicians and media have turned critical race theory, a university-level educational framework that has existed for decades, into a catch-all culture war talking point over the past year. Fox News personalities and politicians like Greene have conflated it at times with any teachings about history and race in America, or even equity and diversity training in workplaces.