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“White supremacy was in sight.” The Double Standard in Police Response to the Capitol Riots – Latest News, Breaking News, Top News Headlines

The image of a young black man, huddled on a Dallas sidewalk with blood gushing from his left eye after being hit by a rubber bullet thrown by a police officer during a racial justice protest, was recorded in the national psyche this spring. pass.

Days earlier, protesters outraged by the Minneapolis police murder of another black man, George Floyd, in late May, were surrounded by police, wearing tactical gear and sprayed with tear gas.

But this week, as a mob of extremists, mostly white and loyal to President Trump, made their way to the US Capitol, sometimes shoving police officers to the ground, looting congressional offices for several hours. and posing for photos with stolen items, the police took a decidedly more lax approach.

On Thursday, when Americans began to analyze the silent response of the police to such an attack on the seat of government, violence emerged as a central focus in the long-standing national discourse on race and the police.

“This unpleasant contrast on the part of the police is all too familiar to the black community,” said Derrick Johnson, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

When protesters stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, the NAACP delivered a simple message on Twitter: “We have been killed for less.”

Trump supporters storm the Capitol and halt a joint session of Congress on Wednesday

Pro-Trump extremists inside the Capitol were generally treated with more restraint than the Black Lives Matter protesters last spring and summer.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

The chaos killed at least five people – a woman who was shot by Capitol police, as well as a Capitol police officer and three other individuals who died as a result of what authorities called medical emergencies – and gave resulted in more than 50 arrests by the end of Thursday. Dozens of officers were injured during the attack, said Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund.

Law enforcement “responded bravely,” Sund said in an opening statement, which did not address the barrage of questions about whether officers had too easily surrendered to the mostly white crowd.

Many of the extremists wore red “Make America Great Again” hats and some waved Confederate, Trump and Gadsden flags.

“These massive riots were not First Amendment protected activities. It was criminal disturbance behavior, ”Sund stressed, adding that a“ thorough ”review of police actions would follow.

Late Thursday, Sund announced his resignation, which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) called for earlier in the day. He will leave on January 16.

The attack occurred as Congress was in the process of certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November elections.

During a television appearance Thursday, Jeh Johnson, a former Secretary of Homeland Security, said the police response deserved close scrutiny.

“There was a failure here,” he said, “and you have to answer tough questions about what happened.”

Johnson, who is black, said that on a day filled with shocking scenes, among the most disturbing images were the scaffolding and hangman’s noose erected outside the Capitol, as well as the Confederate flag being gleefully waved by insurgents as they strutted through the hallways.

“Frankly, I was horrified to see these images,” Johnson said. “This is not the United States.”

Minnesota National Guard secured the perimeter of the Minnesota capitol building

Thousands of protesters gathered at the Minnesota State Capitol in May as the Minnesota National Guard secured the perimeter.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Michelle Obama highlighted the double standards of the police seen on Capitol Hill compared to the way police officers responded to the mostly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. In some cases, officers who had not been provoked by Black Lives Matter protesters beat them with batons and shields and fired rubber bullets at close range.

“For those calling other unpatriots for simply kneeling in silent protest, for those wondering why we need to be reminded that black lives matter, yesterday made it painfully clear that certain Americans are, in fact, allowed to denigrate. the flag and symbols of our nation, “wrote the former first lady on Twitter. “They just have to look the right way. What do all these people have to say now? “

Delores Jones-Brown, visiting professor at Howard University and professor emerita at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said the violence in the nation’s capital “demonstrated that law enforcement can be moderate.”

“This marks how racist a society is and how law enforcement is more willing to facilitate the behavior of white protesters,” Jones-Brown noted. “There was clear consent to the illegal behavior of these rioters. The lack of preparation says something about how law enforcement thought these individuals should be treated as opposed to those who participated in Black Lives Matter. “

Some analysts said problems with readiness included an inadequate level of law enforcement personnel, especially considering that large numbers of Trump supporters were expected to be in town on Wednesday. Capitol police were overwhelmed, they said.

The Minneapolis police clear protesters

Minneapolis police clear protesters after a May curfew during protests over the murder of George Floyd.

(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

“The forces of order in the capital of the nation are in tune with the big events and demonstrations. They collaborate every four years to create a safe environment for the new president, ”said Lynda Williams, president of the National Organization of Black Law Executives.

“Yesterday there was a lack of preparation and attention to this riot,” said Williams, a criminal justice professor who retired in 2017 after three decades in the Secret Service. “He was one of the biggest mobs I have seen in my career as a federal agent.”

After Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, protests have covered the nation. Chorus of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “Without justice, there is no peace!” have been yelled at as protesters confront police in riot gear. In many cases, the police attacked protesters, raising concerns about the use of force.

Alicia Smith, a South Minneapolis neighborhood organizer, said she watched television in shock at the way white protesters entered the United States Capitol with little resistance from police.

“There is a clear double standard in this country: how blacks and brunettes are treated by the police,” said Smith, who is black. “And it’s not just from the police; it is in the home, in health care, in all areas of life ”.

As he looked at the images, Smith said, he thought about how, in the 1950s and 1960s, peaceful protesters in the civil rights movement were doused with water hoses and attacked by police dogs.

“All I know is that if the people who broke into the Capitol had been black, the result would be totally different: the mass arrests and police brutality would have been exposed,” he said.

In Kenosha, Wisconsin, riots and protests left buildings destroyed in August after police shot a 29-year-old black man, Jacob Blake, seven times in the back. Federal security forces and National Guard troops were sent through the city for days while it was placed on a curfew.

This week, hundreds of troops were called back to Kenosha in anticipation of the protests before it was announced that the officer who shot Blake would not face any charges. There was no violence as people marched in the streets.

“They prepared the police too much for the black Kenosha community and not enough for the outrage of whites in DC,” said Alvin Owens, who runs the RegiMen Barber Collective near downtown Kenosha and who was pepper sprayed during the summer protests. “The National Guard should have been in DC”

“If the white United States did not understand their privilege, yesterday they could see it at its peak,” he stressed.

“White supremacy was on full display. The world saw it ”.

Lee and Kaleem reported from Los Angeles and King from Washington.

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