Civil rights groups, NBA stars and many others are criticizing what they said was a glaring difference in how police treated Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer and their treatment of a predominantly white, pro-Trump crowd that assaulted the U.S. Capitol.
One glaring example many pointed to was a now-viral Instagram live video. In the clip, officers of the Capitol Police are shown offering no resistance to the rioters as they streamed into the building.
"There is no doubt in my mind that if those were Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday breaking into the Capitol Building, there would be dozens and dozens of people dead today," Mitch Morrell, former acting and deputy director of the CIA, told CBS News Thursday.
The mob supported President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE, who urged supporters to take action over an election he has repeatedly and inaccurately said he won. Lawmakers were considering the Electoral College vote when the Capital was overrun.
“It just goes to show that the policing system was built against Black and brown people and that's the reason those reactions are different,” Golden State Warrior star Draymond Green said in a press conference Wednesday night. “They're not f---ing protesters. They're f---ing terrorists."
There were examples caught on camera of Capitol Police officers trying to hold back the unruly crowd, and of some officers acting with merit.
Yet it appeared Capitol Police were entirely unprepared for the mob, despite advance warning of what was coming.
Incoming congresswoman Cori Bush (D-Mo.) told MSNBC’s Joy Reid Wednesday that she had felt safe around Capitol Police “until today.”
During the height of the summer’s unrest following the police killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in Minneapolis, protests around the country were met with aggressive tactics from both local and federal officers. In Portland, protesters clashed with federal agents armed with tear gas and rubber bullets for well over a month. In D.C. itself, peaceful protesters were infamously cleared with tear gas on June 1 by the D.C. National Guard — which is federally controlled — so that Trump could walk from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church for a photo op.
That day, over 80 people were arrested for their participation in the D.C. protests. By comparison, just 52 arrests have been announced for Wednesday’s invasion of the Capitol. The chaos also left four people dead.
In the aftermath of the ugly scene at the Capitol that left lawmakers, staff and members of the press to shelter in place within secure locations of the Capitol, many pointed out the apparent double standard, arguing that there was a difference between peaceful protests calling for the end to police brutality and systemic racism against Black Americans and what transpired at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon.
“They've killed us for less!,” the NAACP tweeted.
Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, told The Hill that what happened at the Capitol shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.
“In 2015, the FBI published a report about how police departments had been infiltrated with white nationalists and white supremacy, and we haven't seen anything in terms of legislation to deal with this,” he said. “The fact of the matter is, it’s not an accident, what happened, it's a consequence of a whole set of enablers from those in government to those and social media platforms, to folks in mainstream media."
“We also have to remember those other protests of the armed white folks showing up to states demanding they open up [during the pandemic] … the armed guards that went into the Michigan state house,” Robinson said. “This happened on the state level, and now it's gotten to the national level, and people are surprised. … This has been happening.”
The armed protesters that entered the Michigan state house in May were described by Trump as “very good people.”
In a similar fashion, Trump appeared in front of the rioters-to-be at a rally prior to the eventual chaos. After being urged by lawmakers of both parties to call off his supporters, Trump tweeted out a video telling the mob to go home, but also referred to them as “very special.”
All of this is markedly different from how Trump engaged with BLM protesters, calling them “thugs,” and using the incendiary phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which is seeped in the bloody and racist history of those who were against the civil rights movement.