Ashanti Smith, a 28-year old security guard from Washington, DC, has been charged with assault for punching a Trump supporter on the night before the infamous Capitol riot. She was arrested and relieved from her job even though she acted in defense.
Ashanti, who was unarmed and on break from her security job at that time, said she was acting in self-defense. In the raw video footage, Smith can be seen among the large group of protesters who were screaming racial slurs when some questioned who she was with.
“They didn’t have masks,” she told NBC Washington. “They proceed to try to take my mask off of my face. I was on Instagram live just to protect myself and also show everyone what was going on..”
A pro-Trump protester, identified as Therese Duke by her daughter on Twitter, can be seen on video throwing the first punch at Ashanti’s face. Ashanti then responds by punching the woman in her face.
Another woman who was with Duke, identified as Anne Lorenz, followed Smith and hit her on the back of her head twice. The argument escalated quickly and a larger fight broke out until police officers were able to control it.
Smith has been relieved from her job pending investigation and was charged with simple assault on punching Duke. Lorenz was charged with simple assault and assault on an officer.
Meanwhile, a GoFundMe has been set up to help raise funds for her legal defense and other essential expenses. So far it has raised more than $200K.
“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,” Ashanti said. “After being assaulted, I defended myself. I am now facing criminal charges.”