On January 6th, 2021, around one in the afternoon, all eyes turned to the thousands of aggressive Trump supporters claiming election fraud without evidence. They swarmed around the United States Capitol Building as Congress actively attempted to finalize the results of the 2020 presidential election. Rioters violently forced their way into the Congressional offices, defying law enforcement and shattering windows with weapons. Dozens, if not hundreds, of armed and defiant people swarmed the central hall of the building, spreading out, and eventually reaching the offices of notable government officials. Footage showed men and women toting Trump flags, tearing through private government documents, and even posing, feet up on House majority leader Nancy Pelosi’s desk.
Amidst utter chaos, law enforcement seemed to be barely present for nearly the first two hours of disruption. As Congressional officials and Capitol staff alike evacuated the buildings, the reportedly “heroic” capitol police did not arrive until three in the afternoon. For someone who claims to be the leader of “the party of law and order”, exiting President Donald Trump sure took his time urging the police, who he believes so crucial to controlling illegal activity, to come control his supporters. In fact, Mr. Trump had little to say at all on the violent protests, as he sat safely in the comfort of the White House watching the chaos he incited unfold.
After extensive pressure from even his most supportive Republican colleagues to speak out against the protestors, Trump released a hasty, prerecorded video providing none of the information needed to encourage “protesters” to stand down. He spread further misinformation on his so-called “stolen victory” in an election he “won by a landslide”. The president then apologized to those posing an imminent risk to his colleagues in Congress’ immediate safety, and reluctantly asked them to go home. Trump’s ignorance (after instigating the break in )was heard loud and clear, and President elect Joe Biden said it best, “At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst they can incite.”
I think it is impossible to look at this chain of chaotic, terrifying events, and their seemingly nonviolent response by law enforcement, without making comparisons. Immediately, activists began to draw ties to the villainization of the Black Lives Matter protestors that took to the streets in August, following the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. In one D.C. protest, in which groups marched in an outcry for police reform, forty-one people were arrested for claims of assault and rioting against officers. Dozens of those individuals faced felony charges. Regardless of your personal opinions of the two causes, footage of the Trump riots outside the Capitol show “protestors” blatantly assaulting officers, destroying property, and violently shoving past lines of law enforcement. Yet, there have only been six arrests reported. The numbers simply don’t add up. How can we consider ourselves a just and equal society if when people of all colors come together to protest for Black lives, the police come out in full force; but when mobs of angry white conspiracy theorists threaten our national security, it takes two hours for adequate law enforcement to arrive, and a mere six individuals are detained. One can only imagine what would have happened if those storming the capitol were black and brown. This act of domestic terrorism has shattered any remaining possibility that the police genuinely have any intention of remaining impartial in their work. The law enforcement system in America is racist, and it is clearer now than ever before.