House sergeant-at-arms to Jan. 6 panel: Response ‘would have been different’ if rioters were Black
House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker, who led the D.C. National Guard during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, said law enforcement would have responded differently if the rioters had been Black.
“I’m African American. Child of the Sixties. I think it would have been a vastly different response if those were African Americans trying to breach the Capitol,” Walker told the House Jan. 6 panel in April, according to a transcript released this week.
“As a career law enforcement officer, part-time soldier, last five years full-time, but a law enforcement officer my entire career, the law enforcement response would have been different,” Walker continued.
The House panel as part of its investigation examined why it took hours for the Pentagon to eventually send the National Guard to the Capitol as the calamity unfolded.
The committee concluded in its final report that no Pentagon officials deliberately held off on sending the Guard, but rather conflicting messages caused a delay, placing the blame on then-President Trump.
Walker indicated he did not receive a call from the Defense secretary or secretary of the army as rioters began breaching the Capitol, drawing a comparison to the summer of 2020, when Walker said Pentagon officials “constantly” called him to discuss the racial justice protests that unfolded following the killing of George Floyd.
“I think the response would have been different, a lot more heavy-handed response to, I think there would have been a lot more bloodshed,” Walker said. “You know, as a law enforcement officer, there were — I saw enough to where I would have probably been using deadly force.”
Law enforcement fatally shot one person during the attack who attempted to enter the Speaker’s Lobby, which is located just off the House floor.
Former House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving resigned the day following the Capitol attack as scrutiny grew over law enforcement’s response, and Walker ultimately replaced him in April.
“You’re looking at somebody who would get stopped by the police for driving a high-value government vehicle. No other reason,” Walker told the committee.
“I think it would have been a different response,” he added. “I’ve had to talk with my five children, and getting ready to have it with my granddaughter, the talk. I don’t know if you know what I mean by the talk, of what to do to survive an encounter with the police.”
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