Many Americans were shocked when, in June, Black Lives Matter protests turned violent, although about 93% remained peaceful, according to a report by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. Even at peaceful marches, protestors were met with tear gas and rubber bullets. On Wednesday, six months later, white supremacists stormed Capitol Hill, and despite causing far more damage in American democracy, were left untouched.
Last summer during the demonstrations in response to police killings of unarmed Black people, including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, protestors were met with a strong response from police, including the use of tear gas and physical violence. But as thousands of President Donald Trump supporters, mostly white, marched to the Capitol and broke into the building, forcing lawmakers and staff to shelter in place, law enforcement were notably absent.
On Wednesday at around 4:45 p.m., the Associated Press reported, after about three hours into the protestors, police finally used tear gas and percussion grenades to begin clearing protesters from U.S. Capitol grounds about an hour before DC curfew.
CNN reported that though tear gas was deployed earlier while protestors pushed past the barricades, it was unclear whether it was law enforcement or the protestors who used the chemical deterrent. Police are also slow to make arrests, an estimated 10 were made this morning, but past this, no significant amount of people were arrested.
Last year in June, an estimated 10,000 people were arrested in total from the 140 cities where protests were held, according to AP News. Many of the arrests took place due to curfew violations set in place by the cities to curb the unrest. Wednesday in D.C., despite having a 6 p.m. curfew and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser warnings, no news of additional arrests had been made. Washington D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee said at a press conference Wednesday evening that “just above” 13 people were arrested, according to The Hill.
Many were quick to rightfully point out the hypocrisy between the ways law enforcement treated the situations last year versus the situation this year. Had it been a Black Lives Matter protest, they would not have even gotten the opportunity to get past the barricades. Many more would have been arrested, and just like last year, the National Guard and law enforcement would have been quick to use pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and other forms of violence to subdue the crowd.
These riots were an unacceptable assault on the symbol of our democracy, but it shows a deeper issue — a racist double standard. MAGA rioters were allowed to invade, seize, and terrorize the sacred heart of American democracy while Breonna Taylor was shot in her own home. While Ahmaud Abrey was shot while jogging. While Tamir Rice was shot while playing in a park near his home, at only 12 years old. While George Floyd was killed over a suspicion of a counterfeit $20 bill.