The Difference in Response Between Black Lives Matter Protests and the Capitol Riots.
On January 6th, 2021, in mid-afternoon, Trump supporters and believers of election fraud stormed the capitol building: breaking windows, killing a police officer, and forcing representatives into hiding while certifying votes. The worst part of this event lasted about 2-3 hours and dwindled with the response of the National Guard and a curfew placed by the mayor. This violent, deadly, unconstitutional attack on our nation’s most important building influenced representatives to fully certify the vote, and to impeach President Trump for the second time in the House. This event escalated quickly and turned deadly within hours. Comparisons between how Black Lives Matter protests were handled and the insurrection were immediately made after the late response from the National Guard. One of the more prominent questions being raised is that of what would have happened if these would have been Black Lives Matter protesters?
Jason Andrew, New York Times. Rioters at
the capitol climb to get closer to the entrance.
The Black Lives Matter protests peaked in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020. Ex-officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck until he passed away. Floyd was under arrest after an employee from a convenience store called the police saying Floyd used a counterfeit bill. This event circulated social media and sparked the
protests that continued throughout the summer. Protesters marched to spark change and spread awareness of the deaths of black Americans due to police violence. The Capitol Riots were incited after a rally held by President Trump where he said, “Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them” (USA Today).The mob then headed to the Capitol and stormed it. To try and grasp an understanding of what could have happened if these were not Trump allies, we have to compare and contrast law enforcement response.
The riots on the 6th and the Black Lives Matter protests both occurred in Washington D.C, and near the national mall. The main difference between these two events is that of National Guard deployment. On January 6th, the rioters broke the first barriers on the North side of the Capitol at 12:53pm EST (New York Times). At 1:49pm EST, Chief Steven Sund of the Capitol Police made an urgent call requesting help from the D.C National Guard. The National Guard did not arrive until 5:40pm EST. At that time, the violence had severely dwindled, and the crowd had thinned. One protester was shot by an officer and was later pronounced dead, and one officer died after being hit in the head with a fire extinguisher by a protester. Five people in total died during these protests, but three of those were due to health emergencies. According to the Washington Post, an internal Capitol Police intelligence report warned other officers of the danger that could happen three days before the event took place. The warning was ignored, and the Capitol Police and National Guard found itself scrambling. Why did no one else express concern for this rally? Why did it take so long for the National Guard to arrive? Why does President Trump not accept the blame? These are some of the many questions being tossed around.
Leah Millis, Reuters. Police officers use their riot gear to protect
themselves and the Capitol from the mob gathered.
Black Lives Matter held a protest in the National Mall on June 1st, 2020. It was about the same amount of people protesting, except they were protesting for equality and freedom for all. These protests happened over the course of three days, with peaceful activity during the day and violent clashes in the night between police and protesters. Rubber bullets and tear gas were among the items used to disperse these crowds by law enforcement. President Trump said in a call with governors and members of law enforcement “We’re going to do something that people haven’t seen before,” and “You got to have total domination, and then you have to put them [BLM protesters] in jail,” (Washington Post). In comparison, he said in a now deleted Twitter video to the Capitol rioters “We love you” and “You’re very special” (ABC). National Guard troops swarmed everywhere for days, including lining up on the Capitol when protesters were on the street below. On June 1st and the night that followed, 289 people were arrested (Washington Post). Ali Conyers, a Black Lives Matter protester re-lived January 6th in an interview with Washington Post. “It's a clear double standard, in the Black Lives Matter protests we were hundreds of feet away [from the Capitol] and there were lines and lines of police officers and military-grade weapons and trucks stopping us from getting to that building they were trying so hard to protect.” (Conyers, Washington Post).
The most troubling contrast between these two is the response of Former President Trump. On January 6th, he allegedly incited this riot, told them how much he loved and appreciated them, refused to take the blame for this tragedy, and refused to call the National Guard when this started. On June 1st, he made officers pepper spray and shoot rubber bullets into a crowd of peaceful protesters fighting for equal rights to take a picture in front of a church. He tweeted numerous times of how dominant law enforcement needed to be, called the protesters thugs, threatened to send troops to Democratically run cities, and more.
Victor J. Blue, Bloomberg. Supporters of Former President Trump
clump around the doors to the Capitol.
A few weeks ago our democracy was under attack; its most important process threatened. A coup was forming in our nation's capital, and its participants were treated less severely than the Black Lives Matter protesters that protested the lawless murder of Americans because of their race. This is apparent in the number of arrests, the response from our President, and the response of law enforcement. Things need to change, and this recent riot was a perfect example of why. Is this truly justice for all?