It’s Time For Change In U.S.

Black Lives Matter Protests, Capitol Riots Treated Differently

Fallyn Kowalski, Reporter

     The Black Lives Matter movement is a campaign protesting police brutality and racially motivated violence against Black people and other people of color. It highlights the demeanor of some white people who shamelessly display this concept of white privilege. The movement started around 2013 but has recently gained more attention out of necessity in our society.

     There have been countless unnecessary deaths from police brutality in the last several years. Examples of the extreme force used by police include choking, obstruction of the airway, shooting, beating, teargas, tazing, etc. Some deaths have gained more media coverage than others. Breonna Taylor and George Floyd’s deaths that are now notably recognizable.

Fallyn Kowalski, Columnist

     NBC News reported that the risk of being killed by the police is more pronounced for Black men, who are 2.5 times more likely than white men to be killed by police, while Black women are 1.4 times more likely than white women to be killed by police. 

     These tragic deaths, as well as countless others, have brought about unity and support in the movement to end racism and police brutality. This movement has given some déjà vu of the 1960s Civil Rights protests. To many, it is like nothing they have ever seen before and have only heard about in textbooks.

     The Black Lives Matter protests are always inclusive, as any individual is welcome to join and show support.

     Protests rang out in several cities. Thousands of people united for one common goal: justice for Black people and other people of color against violence from law enforcement and to change the negative attitude toward people of color and their culture. 

     BBC News reported that the vast majority of protests across the United States were peaceful, although there were some high-profile confrontations and clashes between protesters and police.

     However, the National Guard was sent to protests by former president Donald Trump. These were the same people who were sworn to protect and serve all Americans, yet it seemed that they were instructed by the former president to intimidate protestors. USA Today reported that Trump called for a tough response to the protests in order to “dominate the streets” and threatened to call in active-duty troops to quell unrest in cities where local authorities were unable to do so.

     NBC News reported that Trump took the drastic step of sending thousands of National Guard troops to Washington, D.C. They were not sent to repel a foreign attack on the nation’s capitol but to mobilize against American citizens peacefully protesting the senseless killing of George Floyd. 

     Peaceful protestors were shot with rubber bullets, sprayed with tear gas and beaten.

     On Jan.6, insurrectionists, including Trump supporters, white supremacy groups like the Proud Boys, several military personnel and veterans and other militia-type individuals gathered outside the U.S. Capitol. Many protesters believed the Nov. 3 presidential election was stolen from Trump. The Associated Press reported that none of the assertions about a stolen election are true.

     Each person had a different intent, but USA Today said that the insurrection illuminated how far Trump supporters were willing to go to vent their anger over the former president’s false claims of a stolen election. These actions were unruly, destructive and an unconstitutional obstruction on the democracy of our government.

      Some people believe the person who was in charge of bringing in the military to protect the U.S. democracy was the person inciting the riot, although the U.S senate did not convict Trump of inciting the riot during his impeachment trial.

Rachael Mueller

    The New York Times reported that Trump had urged supporters to go to Washington, D.C., for a “Save America March” Jan. 6, when Congress would ceremonially count president-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. ‘s win, telling them to “be there, will be wild,” via twitter. This led to a delay in getting control over the situation earlier, because the National Guard was not brought in until the mob had already started destruction of the U.S. Capitol.

     When law enforcement was finally called to the scene, their actions towards the crowd were subdued and unhurried. PBS reports that videos showed officers stepping aside, and some taking selfies, as if to usher Trump’s supporters into the building they were supposed to guard.

     Keneshia Grant, associate professor of political science at Howard University, said in an interview with NBC News the day after the Capitol attack that the insurgents were treated with more care than the protesters in the Black Lives Matter movement. She said a system of law enforcement that’s designed to protect certain people was on display Jan. 6.

     It is clear that the difference between the treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters and the Capitol rioters is due to white privilege — inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. President Biden said the day after the attack, “You can’t tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesters yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.”

     Had the Capitol mob been Black Lives Matter protesters and people of color, guns would have been drawn with shots fired. The Washington Post reported that the few hundred Capitol Police stationed outside the complex were joined by hundreds of hastily summoned D.C police, but the officers were quickly overpowered when several hundred rioters pushed through low crowd-control stands and surged up the Capitol steps. 

     Ronnie Dunn, Ph.D., an associate professor of urban studies at Cleveland State University, told NBC News that the use of force against the Capitol insurgents was absent and said that had it been Black protesters storming the Capitol, there would have been a different response and that they likely would not have breached the inner chambers. 

     From 2013 to date, the Black Lives Matter protests have been a voice for people to express their concerns and show their support for Black Americans and other people of color. These protests were announced, and officials prepared for the protests, which included the order of the National Guard and any force necessary. Amnesty International reported that law enforcement repeatedly used physical force, chemical irritants such as tear gas and pepper spray, and kinetic impact projectiles as a first resort tactic against peaceful protesters rather than as a response to any sort of actual threat or violence.

     Former first lady Michelle Obama said in a statement Jan. 7 that it was painful to see the “gulf between the responses to Wednesday’s riot and this summer’s peaceful protests.” 

     “This summer’s Black Lives Matter protests were an overwhelmingly peaceful movement,” she said. “And yet, in city after city, day after day, we saw peaceful protesters met with brute force. We saw cracked skulls and mass arrests, law enforcement pepper-spraying its way through a peaceful demonstration for a presidential photo op.” 

     NBC News reported that the FBI and the New York City Police Department had passed information to U.S Capitol Police about the possibility of violence during the protests on Jan. 6 against the counting of the Electoral College vote. However, law enforcement didn’t seem very prepared. 

    How was the Capitol mob formed? How did everyone know where to gather and when? How did people from different states know to be there? What was the platform used? How was it that national security didn’t prepare for this when it was leaked that there could be a possible mob forming? So many unanswered questions. This violent group was formed to wreak havoc and cause violence, and it was the result of white privilege.

     Had white privilege been addressed in earlier years, and had every race been treated the same for criminal actions, this would not have happened. They would have known the consequences of these actions.

     If the majority of rioters had been any other color than white, it would have been handled in a more aggressive, violent manner. 

     Do white people face danger on a daily basis just because of the color of their skin? If you know the answer to this question, you know that it is the result of white privilege. Had these rioters been Black lives and people of color, there would have been mass casualties and arrests. 

   Privilege and entitlement truly need to be addressed in our country, and hopefully with our new president these issues will be addressed.