When Navy veteran David Smith saw the aftermath of last Wednesday’s riots at the U.S. Capitol, he told a WUSA-TV reporter, “It almost brings you to tears. It’s terrible.”
Smith did more than just talk about it, though: Veterans from the group he founded, Continued to Serve, picked up racist stickers and other trash left behind by those who came and left on Wednesday, and worked to clean up Black Lives Matters murals.
The allegiance to Black Lives Matter isn’t new for Continue to Serve. For Smith and his fellow veterans, Black Lives Matter is an important cause for the group; Smith says the group has been assembling regularly at Black Lives Matter Plaza to show solidarity, with the motto “remember your oath” helping to drive the veterans in their support for social justice. Smith told WUSA-TV that they’ve gradually built a relationship with other social justice organizations in DC.
On January 9, they put out a call for a volunteer clean-up the following day, inviting people to “join us as we remove the filth left by the fascists and racists visitors we had in our city.”
WTOP-TV reported “the group has been seeking to do more community work in hope of changing the narrative of what people think about members of the armed services.
“We want to show that we can come together as a community, we can take care of us, and we can keep ourselves safe,” Smith said in the report.
WTOP noted that hundreds came out to McPherson Square to help with the cleanup, bringing trash bags, gloves, and scrapers as the group requested.
Smith told WTOP that he was excited “to see so many people come out to help, remarking on the positivity and optimism so soon after thousands stormed and occupied the Capitol grounds for hours.”