Local News

Civil rights leaders see contrast in treatment of protesters

Posted January 7, 2021 8:20 p.m. EST

A day after chaos rocked the U.S. Capitol, the chief of the police force that protects lawmakers and staff announced he would resign.

The news comes amid a conversation about the handling of the riots and what some say is clear evidence of a double standard when it comes to policing different groups.

"No one can tell me that, if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently," said President-elect Joe Biden.

Other politicians, academics and those chiming in on social media see a stark difference to between the actions of law enforcement inside and outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday and the reaction to protests over the summer, sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody.

"It would’ve been bloodshed on the grounds because they would’ve not even made it that far to even step foot in the facility," said activist Kerwin Pittman.

"What we saw yesterday was a group of men and women who many would define as domestic terrorists and insurrectionists, who were clearly trying to disrupt the government in systematic ways, and they were treated as though they were just a friend at a bar," said Mark Anthony Neal, chairman of the Department of African & African American Studies at Duke University.

"I think the biggest thing is that we were dealing with a crowd that was largely white and largely had a politics that I believe was shared by those in law enforcement and the Capitol police."

The contrast is evident in tweets from President Donald Trump. In July, he called Black Lives Matter protesters anarchists and threatened prison time to those who violated federal buildings.

When the rioters did just that at the U.S. Capitol, Trump called for peace, but told them, “We love you.”

Twenty-four hours later, after a timeout imposed by Twitter, the president returned to the social media platform to decry the violence. "To those who engaged in the acts of violence and destruction, you do not represent our county. And to those who broke the law, you will pay," he said.

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