The day after pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were in the process of certifying election results on Jan. 6, some have drawn critical comparisons between police’s handling of the pro-Trump mob and the treatment faced by Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.
Former first lady Michelle Obama drew attention to the double standards she said played a role in the police’s treatment of the mob at the Capitol on Wednesday.
“Like all of you, I watched as a gang — organized, violent and mad they’d lost an election — laid siege to the United States Capitol. They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of American government,” Obama wrote in a statement shared to Twitter.
She compared the Capitol riot to the protests that took place over the summer after the death of George Floyd, writing, “This summer’s Black Lives matter protests were overwhelmingly peaceful movements…And yet, in city after city, day after day we saw peaceful protesters met with brute force.”
Capitol Police have been criticized because officers were unable to keep rioters out of the building. The mob overcame barricades, scaled the building, smashed windows, stole government property, and sprayed police with chemical agents. At least 50 officers were injured, and one suffered unspecified injuries during his interactions with the Capitol demonstrators before being hospitalized and dying Thursday night. Some of the rioters made it to the Senate floor and entered lawmakers’ offices. Four others are also dead in connection with the riot, including a woman shot by a Capitol policeman inside the building.
“Yesterday made it painfully clear that certain Americans are, in fact, allowed to denigrate the flag and symbols of our nation. They’ve just got to look the right way,” Obama wrote.
“The View” co-host Sunny Hostin, addressing the chaotic day during an episode of the show that aired Thursday, pointed out the differences between the way police treated the pro-Trump mob and the treatment other groups.
“I was thinking, where’s the National Guard? Where are the rubber bullets? Where is the tear gas? Where is the show of force protecting federal property?”
Hostin also referenced the treatment of Navy veteran Christopher David, who was beaten by federal police in July while protesting police brutality at a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Portland, Oregon.
“The type of police restraint we saw is the type of police restraint that I wish had been shown during the Black Lives Matter protests and the protects against policy brutality, the protests against the murder of George Floyd, the protests against the murder of Jacob Blake, the protests against the murder of Breonna Taylor. Where was that restraint? It was nowhere.”
Hostin — who mistakenly used “murder” to describe the fate of Blake, who was left paralyzed but alive after being shot by a Kenosha, Wisconsin, policeman last summer — pointed out that only about 50 arrests were made Wednesday, while a single Black Lives Matter protest could result in the arrests of more than 400 people. As of Thursday evening, about 83 people had been arrested in connection with the riot.
On Thursday morning, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough railed against the Capitol police and for allowing the rioters to “lay siege” to the Capitol building.
“The National Guard wasn’t ready, nobody was ready,” Scarborough said.
Then, co-host Mika Brzezinski posed the question: “Or was it OK because they were white? I just have to ask. I don’t think this would have happened with Black Lives Matter protesters.”
“We don’t have to even go there,” Scarborough responded. “If these insurrectionists were Black they would have been shot in the face.”
On Wednesday, MSNBC anchor Joy Reid expressed a similar sentiment, saying, “I guarantee you if that was a Black Lives Matter protest in D.C., there would already be people shackled, arrested or dead. Shackled, arrested en masse or dead.”
“White Americans are never afraid of the cops, even when they’re committing insurrection and engaged in attempting to occupy our Capitol to steal the votes of people who look like me, because in their minds they own this country, they own that Capitol,” she said.
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund announced his resignation on Thursday amid criticism of the force’s handling of the pro-Trump mob. The resignation goes into effect on Jan. 16. Capitol Police announced it is conducting a “thorough review” of the events of Jan. 6.