Since the violent riots on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, it has been revealed that dozens of police officers were either in the crowd or complicit with it. Citizens have decried the actions of the Capitol police officer seen taking selfies with pro-Trump rioters, as well as those who seemed to escort rioters into the Capitol. According to Pro Publica, at least 12 Capitol police officers are under investigation for potentially aiding and abetting the mob.
While some Americans are shocked at the revelations, many Black Capitol police officers are not surprised. They said they’ve known racists were among their ranks for years but no one would listen to them.
Sharon Blackmon-Malloy is a former Capitol police officer who spent 25 years with the agency before retiring in 2007. She is also one of many plaintiffs in a racial discrimination case against the agency that was filed in 2001 as well as the vice-president of the U.S. Capitol Black Police Association.
She said she spent years sounding the alarm about racism within the agency, but her efforts fell on deaf ears. “Nothing ever really was resolved. Congress turned a blind eye to racism on the Hill,” Blackmon-Malloy told ProPublica. “We got Jan. 6 because no one took us seriously.”
Lt. Frank Adams is another retired Black Capitol police officer who says he experienced racism at the agency. Ho said he found a cartoon depicting a Black man being greeting by a Ku Klux Klan wizard when he went to the heavenly gates on his desk. When he complained to superiors, he said he experienced retaliation. Adams has filed two racial discrimination lawsuits against the agency.
According to him, Congress has had ample time to address racism on Capitol Hill. He believes they are doing so now because of the massive headlines.
“They only become involved in oversight when it’s in the news cycle,” Adams told Pro Publica. “They ignored the racism happening in the department. They ignored the hate.”
Two Black officers — who spoke with BuzzFeed News on condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation — said they were left unprepared and particularly vulnerable to racist attacks during the Jan. 6 riots.
“That was a heavily trained group of militia terrorists that attacked us, one of the officers,” told BuzzFeed. “They had radios, we found them, they had two-way communicators and earpieces. They had bear spray. They had flash bangs. … They were prepared. They strategically put two IEDs, pipe bombs, in two different locations. These guys were military trained. A lot of them were former military.”
The officers also said there were police officers from across the country carrying Blue Lives Matter flags within the mob, a fact that is receiving greater attention as they are identified.
“We were telling them to back up and get away and stop, and they’re telling us they are on our side, and they’re doing this for us, and they’re saying this as I’m getting punched in my face by one of them,” one of the officers said. “That happened to a lot of us. We were getting pepper-sprayed in the face by those protesters — I’m not going to even call them protesters — by those domestic terrorists.”
One of the veteran officers told BuzzFeed he was so emotional he started crying and yelling in the Rotunda once the rioters were removed from the capitol.
“I got called a nigger 15 times today,” the officer said. “Trump did this and we got all of these f—ing people in our department that voted for him. How the f–k can you support him?”
In addition to the aforementioned examples, scores of Black Capitol police officers have filed complaints over the years accusing colleagues of racial discrimination, Pro Publica reports. It’s something former Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine, who left the agency in 2016, acknowledged. He said he tried to address it by implementing a new diversity office, rules and promoting Black officers to several leadership roles.
“There is a problem with racism in this country, in pretty much every establishment that exists,” Dine told Pro Publica. “You can always do more in retrospect.”
On Twitter, users weighed in on Black officers’ voices being ignored for so long. “Listen to Black people. You’ll avoid a lot of problems later,” MSNBC anchor Joy Ann Reid wrote. “There’s a difference between not taking them seriously, and not caring. I’m willing to bet they just didn’t care,” responded user @AlishaQIQ.
One user summed up the sentiment of not only many Black officers, but Black Americans overall.
“It’s “tolerable” when white supremacist police officers around the country are allowed to unjustly and regularly harass/murder only black people with impunity. However, it’s no longer fun when these same officers begin compromising the security and lives of EVERYONE ELSE,” user @morethanjusta_ wrote.