Story at a glance

  • A mob of pro-Trump supporters broke into the United States Capitol Building, overwhelming law enforcement.
  • Some people pointed to the strong police presence and response to Black Lives Matter demonstrations in comparison.
  • More than 50 arrests were made, although past protests have led to hundreds of arrests.

The scene looked familiar. Chaos in the streets of Washington, D.C., as crowds gathered for what was promised to be a peaceful demonstration. But there were some glaring differences between the law enforcement response to a pro-Trump mob invading the Capitol Building and demonstrators gathered on the streets of the city.

Last summer, multiple federal and local law enforcement agencies brought in tanks and other vehicles ahead of planned civil rights demonstrations and at one point an eight-foot-tall fence surrounded Lafayette Park in front of the White House. But D.C. Police had no jurisdiction at the Capitol, which sits on federal land, leaving crowd control and security in the hands of Capitol Police. 

In fact, after federal agents swarmed the city uninvited during the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Mayor Muriel Bowser made a point of not requesting additional federal law enforcement ahead of Wednesday’s planned rally.  


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 Despite the familiar riot gear, officers did not keep the crowd from breaching the building for the first time since the British attacked and burned the building in 1814, during the War of 1812. Protesters faced only a temporary barricade, set up ahead of the inauguration, at the front of the Capitol Building — with some accusing police of allowing the crowd in.  

It’s not clear what exact measures were taken to keep the mob out of the building, but tear gas and smoke grenades were reported only after rioters entered the Capitol. One woman was reportedly shot and killed, but there have been no reports of police discharging their weapons. In fact, unlike the response to some Black Lives Matter protests, the law enforcement response remained relatively peaceful even as armed rioters sought to break into the House Chamber, with officers attempting to deescalate the situation.


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Capitol Police have used force to remove protestors from the building in the past, including disabled people in wheelchairs, as reported by NBC News. 

 

Some theorized that this would not have been the case had the crowd been overwhelmingly Black or people of color rather than white, while others compared the rhetoric to criticisms of Black Lives Matter protests. 

Capitol Police announced thirteen arrests related to the insurrection, a far cry from the more than 200 protesters arrested during protests at President Trump’s inauguration or dozens on any one given day of protests last summer.



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Published on Jan 06, 2021