What happened in Washington yesterday was an unprecedented situation. There was no parallel in modern American history, it was nothing else but a shameful and frightening moment for our democracy. Groups of pro-Trump protesters, some were even armed, broke into the Capitol Hill complex, where Congress was meeting to certify Joe Biden’s election. Senators and deputies were evacuated from the courtroom after being ordered by security officers to wear gas masks. Protesters attempted to break into the chambers and the situation completely spiraled out of control. Four people died, 13 are injured and there were 52 arrests.
These facts shook the world’s public opinion. Not only did we witnessed horrendous scenes from the US, but we also saw a direct attack on democracy and legislators carrying out the will of the American people. This day should never have happened, and yet we saw it coming. We were sort of expecting it after the discontent about the election emerged for some people in the country. What was supposed to be a normal ceremonial ritual in Congress exploded into chaos as protesters, supporters of Donald Trump, stormed the US parliament a few minutes after the current President proclaimed once again that Joe Biden's election was rigged.
As journalist Warren Evans, from the Detroit Free Press, puts it: “The madness that we all saw on display in our nation’s capital is nothing more than the natural outgrowth of the madness we have seen demonstrated over and over again by this lawless administration ever since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. His naked, enthusiastic appeal to the promoters of white racism and white nationalism has been front and center from the very beginning. So how can we truly be surprised when the chicken came home to roost on the Capitol steps?”
Some politicians and a few journalists had the audacity to define these acts as “patriotic protests”. But let’s be clear, that was not a peaceful protest. The pro-Trump rioters were not a law-abiding group of citizens expressing their opinions but rather the true definition of radical extremism. Vinson Cunningham reported in the New Yorker: “The Senate floor became a playground for men (and a few women) like this one appeared to be: childish, stupid, dangerous, and confirmed in their fear and anger by a President who exemplifies each of these traits in their worst and most absurd extremities.”
And yet, the rioters encountered a minimal police response, not like the one that was put in place during the Black Lives Matter protests. On June 1st, when a crowd of people, mostly black, peacefully demonstrated a block away from the White House, and made no attempt to breach its security, it was met with a large force made up of the Police, national guard troops and federal agencies. On the contrary, the mob that broke into the US parliament did so with a clear intent of overturning a fair election, with a very explicit plan and even with guns. However, the Capitol police collapsed under pressure form the rioters and no one else was there to stop them. The apparent lack of officers in riot gear, using tear gas or travelling in military-style vehicles, couldn't be more meaningful.
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The Police reaction to armed Trump supporters violently storming the U.S. Capitol is in stark contrast with the reaction against the unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters just months ago. Why is that? What is the difference? The pro-Trump extremists who forced their way into the Capitol yesterday afternoon were mostly white.
Even though some of these rioters probably dispute the idea of white privilege, the fact that they were allowed to overrun the Police and invade the building was evidence of that privilege. Anyone who still doesn’t understand what white privilege looks like can just look at these pictures and reflect.
Credit images: GettyImages.com
Written by Miriam Tagini