Police gave more leeway to Trump supporters than to BLM protesters in Capitol insurrection
Video suggests that Capitol police may have allowed crowd through barricades around boundaries
As horrified Americans watched, a pro-Trump protest in the nation’s capital turned into a violent insurrection that many believe was worsened by a tepid police response because the demonstrators were predominantly white.
On Twitter, journalist Jemele Hill, among many others, said that the scene got out of hand because Capitol police allowed the Trump demonstrators more leeway than they did those at Black Lives Matters protests over the summer.
Hill’s tweet was substantiated by a TikTok video viewed over 10 million times that appears to show Capitol police officers opening up barricades to allow the protesters onto the grounds of the Capitol.
The Washington Post reports that according to law enforcement protestors, demonstrators protesting the finalization of the Electoral College vote that would officially certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory broke into the Capitol building around 2 p.m. using a shield stolen from a Capitol police officer.
As theGrio reported, though D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the D.C. National Guard the day before to support Capitol police, they didn’t appear to be in place when the breach happened.
Footage from multiple vantage points seemed to show Capitol police allowing protesters to move closer to the Capitol without the show of force that met most BLM protests nationwide. Some protesters were simply escorted from the building without arrest, as was the norm when anti-racist protests broke out this summer in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor as well as the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Georgia man killed by two white men while out for a run.
The occupation of the Capitol building lasted for over three hours as D.C. officials scrambled to find support from a multitude of law enforcement agencies including the Virginia National Guard, the Federal Protective Service, the Secret Service, and police from nearby Arlington, Virginia, according to the Post. A woman who appeared to be part of the protesters was shot in the melee, according to the New York Times. McFarlane News later reported that the individual has died.
D.C. police chief Robert Contee said that D.C. police were brought in to assist Capitol police as the situation worsened. Initially, D.C. police were planning to focus on the neighborhoods near the Capitol. Capitol police, who number more than 2200, are a federal law enforcement agency that has been around for 192 years with sole jurisdiction over all of the US Capitol complex and the Library of Congress.
Question remain how, then, was the agency so unprepared? It was known that Trump’s supporters were gathering to continue to try and fan the flames of division over the presidential election. Even though Trump was asked to calm the crowd, he did so while still maintaining that the election results were fraudulent.
Despite legal efforts to change the results in several states, President Donald Trump and his legal team have been rebuffed and preparations are being made for President-elect Biden to assume the presidency on Jan. 20.
Yet, demonstrators were allowed unprecedented access to breach the Capitol, storming the building where the Electoral College vote was to be certified and forcing lawmakers to shelter in place. U.S Rep Jim Himes (D-Conn.) tweeted that they’d been told told to get out gas masks as tear gas had been deployed, the Post reported.
As of 6:55 p.m., only 15 protesters had been arrested, according to MSNBC.
Despite the mob, Congress says the election results will be certified tonight. The Senate is expected to reconvene at 8 p.m.
“We’re going to finish tonight,” West Virginia senator Joe Manchin told assembled media. “These thugs are not running us off.”
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