Congressional Black Caucus says law enforcement ‘complicit’ in Capitol attack, calls for immediate investigation

Rep. Karen Bass says those who broke into the Capitol 'were the same people that scream about law and order when there are Black Lives Matter protests'

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Rep. André Carson just ended a Zoom meeting with fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus when he was informed by a Capitol police officer that there was an imminent security threat to the building on Wednesday.

Thousands of Trump supporters had forced their way into the building during a joint congressional session certifying election results. He immediately texted his colleagues in Congress to make sure they were safe and called his family.

Read More: Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob

Carson said the attempted coup reminded him of the hatred he experienced during a health care debate in 2010, when he and the late Rep. John Lewis were attacked with racial slurs. After experiencing that, Carson explained, the attempted coup came as no surprise to him. 

It was also not surprising that law enforcement allowed insurrectionists to storm the Capitol, Carson, a former police officer, said. He added that police were “empathizers and sympathizers” during the attempted coup, and that law enforcement is a safe haven for white supremacists and nationalists. 

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U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN) questions Jennifer Williams and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman during a hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill November 19, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin – Pool/Getty Images)

Rep. Karen Bass, the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said those who broke into the Capitol “were the same people that scream about law and order when there are Black Lives Matter protests. The people that are attacking Capitol Police officers were the same people that say they stand with the police.” 

Nadia Brown, a political science professor at Purdue University, called the takeover an example of “America being America.”

“I don’t know what other example is as poignant or intrinsically American – as American as apple pie – as seeing white privilege and white supremacy on display,” Brown said. “But for white people, those that deeply hold onto this tenet of American exceptionalism, this is a glitch in the system. This is a one-off.”

Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Emanuel Cleaver agreed with Carson, saying that the mob had been treated with “velvet gloves” after most were allowed to leave the building without being arrested.

The 52 arrests reported, Cleaver said, are a stark contrast with law enforcement’s actions during Black Lives Matter protests after the killing of George Floyd in May, when 289 protesters were arrested in one day. Had it been a Black Lives Matter march, Cleaver explained, President Donald Trump would have called out the National Guard, U.S. Marshals and the FBI.

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U.S. House Representative Emanuel Cleaver introduces former Vice President and Presidential candidate Joe Biden during the Joe Biden Campaign Rally at the National World War I Museum and Memorial on March 7, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Kyle Rivas/Getty Images)

Cleaver said he will be reeling from Wednesday’s events for months. Though security officials told him and other members of Congress not to go outside or show their congressional pins, he wasn’t alarmed until a security buzzer went off alerting him to go to a secure location, lock the doors and stay away from windows. At that point, Cleaver said, he became angry that “a mob of anarchists attempted a coup d’etat” and compromised democracy.

Carson blames Trump and his allies for the attempted coup, saying that he incited violence through his inflammatory rhetoric, and called for his immediate removal through the 25th Amendment. He called the “unpatriotic” insurrectionists who stormed the capitol “domestic terrorists” because they posed a significant threat to national security. 

“I hope now we can see the importance of how power can corrupt absolutely,” Carson said.

After the Capitol was cleared of rioters, the members of the House and Senate worked through the night until they had certified – shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday — that Joe Biden won the presidency and Kamala Harris had won the vice presidency.

Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., read the final certification of Electoral College votes cast in November’s presidential election during a joint session of Congress after working through the night, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

“You felt a sense of duty and a sense of purpose and a sense of mission about still conducting the people’s business. And fortunately, we were able to do so,” Carson said.

But Cleaver added that many of his colleagues are now wary of working with the Republican lawmakers who objected to certifying the election results because of unfounded allegations of election fraud.

“The challenges from these Republicans are not only politically problematic, but they also are racially problematic because they are targeting and trying to delegitimize Black voters,” said Clarence Lusane, American University political science professor. 

Read More: Capitol siege raises security concerns for Biden inaugural

Carson, on the other hand, hopes that the next administration will bring bipartisan legislation on issues such as infrastructure and transportation, climate change, education, national security and strengthening ties overseas.

Both Carson and Cleaver, along with several others in the Congressional Black Caucus, said they support an investigation into the events of Jan. 6. Carson said the FBI should examine the video footage and determine which officers were complicit in “aiding and abetting” the insurrectionists, and to identify and arrest everyone who broke into the Capitol.

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