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Biden will award presidential medal to Black election workers targeted by Trump

Police officers who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6 and 2020 election officials will also receive the second-highest civilian award in the United States.

By Oliver Willis - January 05, 2023
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FILE - Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is comforted by her mother Ruby Freeman, right, as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol continues to reveal its findings of a year-long investigation, at the Capitol in Washington, June 21, 2022. President Joe Biden on Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, will present the nation's second highest civilian to 12 individuals involved in defending the Capitol during the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, and safeguarding the will of American voters in the 2020 presidential election, including Moss and Freeman. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

The White House announced on Thursday that President Joe Biden will award the Presidential Citizens Medal to 12 individuals on Jan. 6, the second anniversary of the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump.

The Citizens Medal is the second-highest civilian award given by the U.S. government after the Presidential Medal of Freedom and is awarded to those “who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs.” Notable past recipients include Hank Aaron, Bob Dole, and Colin Powell.

Among those slated to be awarded by Biden are Shaye Moss and her mother Ruby Freeman, who were poll workers in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 presidential election.

Moss and Freeman, who are Black, were the subject of conspiracy theories and smears promoted by Trump and his campaign. After the results of the election showed Trump losing to Biden in Georgia, Trump campaign lawyer and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani falsely alleged that the women were involved in election fraud.

ABC News reported that, citing a video that circulated among conservatives, Giuliani told a committee of Georgia legislators that Freeman and Moss were “quite obviously surreptitiously passing around USB ports, as if they’re vials of heroin or cocaine.”

Trump himself mentioned the women 18 times in a phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021, while attempting to pressure him to invalidate the election results.

“I’ll take on anybody you want with regard to Ruby Freeman, and her lovely daughter, a very lovely young lady, I’m sure. But Ruby Freeman, I will take on anybody you want,” Trump said on the call, according to NPR. A recording was subsequently leaked to reporters.

On June 21, 2022, Moss testified before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack, detailing how Trump’s remarks about her, which were later amplified by conservative media outlets like Fox News, prompted violent threats that sent her and her mother into hiding.

NPR reported that Moss told the committee: “It’s turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card… I don’t want anyone knowing my name.”

She testified that she had to change her appearance to avoid threats and that she left her job.

Discussing messages sent to her on Facebook, Moss said: “A lot of them were racist. A lot of them were just hateful.”

Several law enforcement officers who defended the Capitol will also receive the Citizens Medal from Biden, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died following the attack. Other Capitol Police officers who will be honored are Caroline Edwards, Harry Dunn, Aquilino Gonell, and Eugene Goodman.

Michael Fanone and Daniel Hodges of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department will also receive medals for their actions on Jan. 6.

Elected officials who resisted pressure to overturn election results will also receive the medal, including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, former Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, and former Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt.

Biden has frequently condemned efforts to deny legitimate election results. After the 2022 midterm elections, when multiple Republican candidates who had denied the 2020 presidential election results were defeated at local, state and federal levels, Biden said their defeats were a “strong rejection of election deniers at every level.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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