‘There’s nowhere I feel safe’: Georgia election workers on how Trump upended their lives

Shaye Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, testified how Trump and his allies fueled harassment and racist threats

In powerful and emotional testimony about the sinister results of Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election, a mother and daughter who were Georgia elections workers described how Trump and his allies upended their lives, fueling harassment and racist threats by claiming they were involved in voter fraud.

Testifying to the January 6 committee in Washington, Shaye Moss said she received “a lot of threats. Wishing death upon me. Telling me that I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like, ‘Be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920.’”

That was a reference to lynching, the violent extra-judicial fate of thousands of Black men in the American south.

Moss also said her grandmother’s home had been threatened by Trump supporters seeking to make “citizen’s arrests” of the two poll workers.

No Democratic presidential candidate had won Georgia since 1992 but Joe Biden beat Trump by just under 12,000 votes, a result confirmed by recounts.

Tuesday’s hearing detailed Trump’s attempts to overturn that result via pressure on Republican state officials and vilification of Moss and her mother over video supposedly showing them engaged in voter fraud, a claim swiftly debunked.

Moss’s mother attended the hearing. In taped testimony, she said: “My name is Ruby Freeman. I’ve always believed it when God says that he’ll make your name great. But this is not the way it was supposed to be.”

“For my entire professional life, I was Lady Ruby. My community in Georgia, where I was born and lived my whole life, knew me as Lady Ruby. I built my own business around that name: Ruby’s Unique Treasures. A pop-up shop catering to ladies with unique fashions.”

“I wore a shirt that proudly proclaimed that I was and I am Lady Ruby. I had that shirt in every color. I wore that shirt on election day 2020. I haven’t worn it since and I’ll never wear it again.

“I won’t even introduce myself by my name anymore. I get nervous when I bump into someone I know in the grocery store who says my name. I’m worried about people listening. I get nervous when I have to give my name for food orders. I’m always concerned of who’s around me.

“I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security, all because a group of people starting with [Trump] and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen.”

Freeman also said: “There is nowhere I feel safe. Nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you?

“The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American. Not to target one. And he targeted me, Lady Ruby, a small business owner, a mother, a proud American citizen who stood up to help Fulton county run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”

Freeman said she had been forced to leave home for two months.

Moss described threats also made to her grandmother.

“That woman is my everything,” she said. “I’ve never even heard or seen her cry, ever in my life. And she called me screaming at the top of her lungs, like ‘Shaye, Shaye, oh my gosh, Shaye’, freaking me out, saying that people were at her home.”

“And they knocked on the door and of course she opened it, seeing who was there, who it was, and they just started pushing their way through, claiming they were coming in to make a citizen’s arrest. They needed to find me and my mom, they knew we were there.

“And [my grandmother] was just screaming and didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t there so I just felt so helpless and so horrible for her. And she just screamed and I called her to close the door. Don’t open the door for anyone.”

Moss was asked how her own life had been affected.

She said: “My life was turned upside down. I no longer give out my business card. Don’t want anyone knowing my name. Don’t want to go anywhere with my mom because she might yell my name out over the grocery aisle or something. I don’t go to the grocery store anymore.

“I haven’t been anywhere. I’ve gained about 60lb. I don’t want to go anywhere, I second-guess everything that I do. It’s affected my life in a major way, every way.

“All because of lies.”


Martin Pengelly in New York

The GuardianTramp

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