‘Fighter until the end’: McEachin remembered by Congressional Black Caucus

Congressional Black Caucus members have been mourning the death of fellow member Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) — who they called an “extraordinary statesman” and “tireless advocate” — after he died from cancer Monday night. 

“It is with profound sadness that we join the people of Virginia and the McEachin family in mourning the loss of our dear friend and colleague, the honorable Congressman Donald McEachin,” the Caucus tweeted Monday. 

“Congressman McEachin was a tireless advocate for the people of Virginia and our nation. He dedicated his life to advancing America’s working families, creating economic opportunities, and promoting environmental justice for all. He leaves an unparalleled legacy of excellence and integrity, and we will honor that legacy with our continued dedication to the issues which he championed.”

McEachin’s death was announced Monday by his chief of staff, Tara Rountree, who said the congressman had been experiencing “secondary effects of his colorectal cancer from 2013.” 

McEachin was 61. His death has prompted an outpouring of support from individual members of the caucus as well.

“As a fellow member of @TheBlackCaucus, I was proud to work with Don on issues ranging from Black Maternal Health and HBCUs to the preservation of African American Burial Grounds,” Rep. Alma Adams (D-N.C.) tweeted. 

“Don was an extraordinary statesman, and always kind,” she added in another tweet. “My prayers are with Don’s wife Colette, their children, their family and friends, and all of Congressman McEachin’s staff who supported him in service of Virginia’s Fourth Congressional District.”

Adams said McEachin was a fighter for the state of Virginia, and he shared his personal fight with cancer to “inspire others to get screened and see their doctor.”

Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said McEachin was a friend and called him “a dedicated public servant and a fighter until the end.” He added that McEachin’s voice and passion will be missed. 

Rep. Val Demings (D-Florida) said in a statement she was “deeply saddened” by McEachin’s passing. 

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., stands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., as she announces her impeachment managers during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

“We came to Congress together, where he was a leader and a friend,” Demings said. “He was a man of faith and conviction who truly understood what it meant to stand up for the ‘least of these.’ Despite his personal health challenges, he was devoted to his constituents, and he showed up to do the work. He was a tireless fighter for health care, gun safety, civil rights, and environmental justice. His commitment and that legacy will live on, but I will miss him.”

Fellow Virginia representative Bobby Scott (D) paid tribute to McEachin in a statement that called him a “thoughtful and principled legislator and respected by people on both sides of the aisle.” 

“He was also a trail blazing figure in Virginia politics – being the first African-American nominee of a major party for Virginia Attorney General and only the third African-American elected to Congress from Virginia,” Scott said. 

“Donald was resolute in pushing Virginia to lead the way in climate policy. He was also one of Congress’s strongest champions for environmental justice, fighting to ensure that our most vulnerable communities have access to clean air and water. The Commonwealth and our nation have lost one of its most dedicated public servants and fiercest advocates for justice and equality.”

McEachin came to Congress in 2016 after serving in both chambers of Virginia’s General Assembly. 

Born in Nuremberg, Germany, on Oct. 10, 1961, McEachin was the son of an Army veteran and a public school teacher.

He graduated from American University with a degree in political science and from the University of Virginia School of Law. In 2008, he received his Master of Divinity from The Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University.

He was a lifetime member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and the NAACP. 

“Donald wholeheartedly represented his home state of Virginia and was unyielding in his fight for environmental justice in Congress,” NAACP CEO and president Derrick Johnson said in a statement. “We will miss him and his determination to improve our environment for the next generation.”

At the time of his death, McEachin sat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Natural Resources Committee and Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

On Tuesday, flags were at half-staff at the White House and the Capitol in honor of McEachin.

Democrats lean on Ku Klux Klan Act to hold Trump and Giuliani accountable for Capitol riot

Republican enablers may have let former President Donald Trump get away with inciting a deadly Capitol riot, but his recent impeachment acquittal isn't squelching the seemingly endless and much-deserved flood of lawsuits against Trump. The NAACP, Rep. Bennie Thompson, of Mississippi, and the civil rights legal firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll filed a suit against the former commander in chief Tuesday in federal court.

In the suit, the advocates allege that Trump, his personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, and the hate groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers "conspired to incite" the march to the Capitol to disrupt “by the use of force, intimidation and threat,” Congress’ certification of President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. “The insurrection at the Capitol did not just spontaneously occur—it was the product of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani lies about the election,” Joe Sellers, a partner at Cohen Milstein said in a news release announcing the lawsuit. “With the Senate failing to hold the President accountable, we must use the full weight of the legal system to do so. The judicial system was an essential bulwark against the President during his time in office, and its role in protecting our democracy against future extremism is more important than ever.”

Trump urged the march to the Capitol during his Save America rally on January 6, and an insurrection that left Capitol police officer Brian Sicknick dead, reportedly hit with a fire extinguisher, followed. More than a dozen other police officers were injured; three people died in medical emergencies; and one rioter was shot and killed when she attempted to breach the Capitol.

Thompson, the NAACP, and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll cited the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 in their lawsuit, which is intended to “protect against conspiracies, through violence and intimidation, that sought to prevent Members of Congress from discharging their official duties.” 

The legal team stated in the suit:

“The insurrection at the Capitol was a direct, intended, and foreseeable result of the Defendants’ unlawful conspiracy. It was instigated according to a common plan that the Defendants pursued since the election held in November 2020, culminating in an assembly denominated as the “Save America” rally held at the Ellipse in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, during which Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited a crowd of thousands to descend upon the Capitol in order to prevent or delay through the use of force the counting of Electoral College votes. As part of this unified plan to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes, Defendants Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, through their leadership, acted in concert to spearhead the assault on the Capitol while the angry mob that Defendants Trump and Giuliani incited descended on the Capitol. The carefully orchestrated series of events that unfolded at the Save America rally and the storming of the Capitol was no accident or coincidence. It was the intended and foreseeable culmination of a carefully coordinated campaign to interfere with the legal process required to confirm the tally of votes cast in the Electoral College.”

The NAACP cited in its news release a segment of Giuliani’s remarks at the Save America rally last month. “If we’re right, a lot of them will go to jail. So let’s have trial by combat,” the unscrupulous attorney said. The NAACP also quoted the former president in its release. “So we are going to … walk down Pennsylvania Avenue… we’re … going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country,” Trump said at the rally.

1 hour before MAGA stormed the Capitol: Trump: "We're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue... and we're going to the Capitol... we're going to try and give our Republicans ... the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country." He specifically incited it. pic.twitter.com/ROoVictxqa

— Brent Black (@brentalfloss) January 6, 2021

NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement that Trump needs to be held accountable both "for deliberately inciting and colluding with white supremacists to stage a coup" and for "his continuing efforts to disenfranchise African-American voters." “The insurrection was the culmination of a carefully orchestrated, months-long plan to destroy democracy, to block the results of a fair and democratic election, and to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of African-American voters who cast valid ballots,” Johnson added. “Since our founding, the NAACP has gone to the courthouse to put an end to actions that discriminate against African-American voters. We are now bringing this case to continue our work to protect our democracy and make sure nothing like what happened on January 6th ever happens again.”

Thompson called January 6 "one of the most shameful days in our country’s history," and he added that "it was instigated by the President himself." “His gleeful support of violent white supremacists led to a breach of the Capitol that put my life, and that of my colleagues, in grave danger,” the congressman said. “It is by the slimmest of luck that the outcome was not deadlier.

“While the majority of Republicans in the Senate abdicated their responsibility to hold the President accountable, we must hold him accountable for the insurrection that he so blatantly planned,” he added. “Failure to do so will only invite this type of authoritarianism for the anti-democratic forces on the far right that are so intent on destroying our country.”

Rep. Thompson is also seeking punitive damages which is A+ trolling insofar as it may force Trump to admit he’s a broke ass. pic.twitter.com/vQY3IpWn2I

— ⚓️🚢Imani Gandy 🚢⚓️ (@AngryBlackLady) February 16, 2021