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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Anti-racism protests vs Capitol Hall siege: How police responded to both protests

In a national address on Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden condemned the attack and acknowledged the clear difference in how law enforcement officials responded to the Capitol Hill siege.

Written by Rahel Philipose | New Delhi |
Updated: January 9, 2021 12:19:08 am
BLM vs Capitol attackIn this combination of photos, on June 7, 2020, protesters participating in a Black Lives Matter rally, left, march to downtown Pittsburgh to protest the death of George Floyd and people listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a rally Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photos)

After an armed and angry mob of mostly-white Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday in an effort to overturn the results of the presidential election, several political leaders and activists in the country have pointed out the stark contrast between the police’s response to the recent insurrection and the brutal use of force against Black Lives Matter (BLM) protestors last year.

In a national address on Thursday, President-elect Joe Biden condemned the attack and acknowledged the clear difference in how law enforcement officials responded to the Capitol Hill siege.

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“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday, they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said. “We all know that’s true. And it’s unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”

Meanwhile, Trump — who famously referred to the Black Lives Matter demonstrators as “thugs” — called the rioters involved in the attack on Capitol Hill “great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.”

As videos and images of the recent riot began to emerge, Black Lives Matter activists who were involved in last year’s anti-racism protests expressed outrage over what they saw as a clear manifestation of the US’ unequal justice system.

The protests for racial justice spread across the United States last year following the death of George Floyd — a black man who died in Minneapolis after a police officer strangled him with his knee last May. President Donald Trump had ordered a tough response to the protests, deploying National Guard troops in several states to suppress the demonstrators.

Here’s a look at how police responded to siege at the Capitol and the 2020 BLM protests

Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo)

On January 6, 2021 hundreds of supporters of US President Donald Trump marched to the historic Capitol Building to protest against the certification of electoral votes, which would validate Biden’s victory. Despite the presence of law enforcement authorities, they climbed up the stairs of the building, and even broke through police barriers and scaled the outer walls that surround it.

Trump draws criticism for photo-op at Church minutes after protesters are gassed Tear gas floats in the air as a line of police move demonstrators away from St. John’s Church across Lafayette Park from the White House, as they gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

In June last year, police and National Guard troops brutally cracked down on a group of anti-racism demonstrators who were peacefully protesting near Lafayette Park in Washington DC. They used tear gas and force to try and disperse the group as President Trump was expected to walk from the White House through the park to a church nearby for a photo-op.

US Capitol Hill siege, Trump supporters protests, US riots Smoke fills the walkway outside the Senate Chamber as supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by U.S. Capitol Police officers inside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

During the siege on Wednesday, the lawmakers who had convened to certify the electoral college results were evacuated from the premises as chaos ensued. Many of their offices were broken into and looted as the pro-Trump rioters wrecked havoc in the halls of the Capitol.

An image dating back to June 2020, which features several members of the DC National Guard standing on the steps leading up to the Lincoln Memorial as Black Lives Matter demonstrators held a peaceful protest against police brutality, has been widely circulated on social media. In response to growing levels of civil unrest, National Guard troops were deployed in states across the country to suppress the anti-racism protests.

US Capitol, US police, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Capitol Complex, US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, Senate Democratic Leader Senator Chuck Schumer, US capitol violence, trump supporters, us news, us latest news, usa protests, indian express world news, world news, indian express Police keep a watch on demonstrators who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP/PTI)

Meanwhile, the National Guard was deployed hours after the rioters had broken into the Capitol building on Wednesday. By this weekend, around 6,200 National Guard troops will move into Washington DC, where they will remain until President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

portland protests, portland police brutality, portland federal forces, black lives matter, george floyd protest, US protests, portland news, Indian Express Federal officers disperse Black Lives Matter demonstrators at the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

During the protests last year, law enforcement officials clashed with demonstrators — spraying them with tear gas and using rubber bullets to disperse them. The brutality with which they attempted to crackdown on the protests earned them widespread condemnation from civil rights activists worldwide. In one instance, a police official in New York was seen pushing an elderly man to the ground.


Supporters of President Donald Trump are confronted by Capitol Police officers outside the Senate Chamber inside the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

While police deployed tear gas against the pro-Trump protestors, some law enforcement officials were also seen calmly reasoning with the rioters that had broken into the Capitol building. Images of law enforcement officials patiently tending to injured protestors have also caused an uproar amongst the BLM community, who did not receive the same treatment during last year’s protests.

A demonstrator is taken into custody by police after a curfew took effect during a protest over the death of George Floyd, Monday, June 1, 2020, near the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Hundreds of protestors were arrested for unrest-related offences during the anti-racism protests of 2020. According to the Washington DC police department, 427 arrests were made between May 30 and June 2 last year during the racial justice protests in DC alone.

A U.S. Capitol police officer shoots pepper spray at a protestor attempting to enter the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS

Just 53 people were arrested in Washington DC on Wednesday after the rioters stormed the Capitol Building.

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