By Senator Lena C. Taylor
The comparisons were immediate. If these were Black people, they would have been arrested. If these were Black people, they would have been beaten and shot. If these were Black people, they would have been killed. But they weren’t Black people, they were white.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, I am referencing the horrific attack on our nation’s Capitol and system of democracy. Without a doubt, Jan. 6, 2020 has been cemented in American history, much like Dec. 7, 1941. The images of rioters breaking out the windows of the United States Capital and hanging from the sides of building exteriors seem like something out of a movie. Historic furnishings wrecked, offices looted and legislators barricaded in their chambers…really it was like a scene from “Olympus Has Fallen.”
Yet, unlike the big screen thriller, it wasn’t a group of North Korean terrorists that were attacking the U.S., it was everyday American residents from Florida, Wisconsin and many states in between. It was sitting Republican members of Congress and the President of the United States who encouraged and egged on a mob of supporters to storm the nation’s Capitol. Donald Trump told supporters they should “walk down to the Capitol” and suggested violence hours before the attack by telling this mob, “You can never take back our country with weakness.”
Amped and stoked to defend Trump and stop the electoral college votes, his supporters descended on the Capitol. The rest is unbelievable history. Most incredulous is the security response or lack thereof. Yes, resignations have happened: Capitol Chief of Police, the Sergeant of Arms, the Deputy National Security Advisor, etc. but something was extremely wrong in how easily the rioters were able to breach the Capitol. We have heard that authority to send in the National Guard from neighboring Maryland and Virginia was repeatedly denied. By who? The Capitol Police refused advance offers of help from federal agencies to help police the situation. Why? Some Capitol police were seen taking selfies with the rioters. Why? These were the questions that were circulating on social media. And of course, the comparison to how non-violent Black Lives Matters protestors have been and would have been treated was lost on no one.
There were pipe bombs found at the DNC and RNC offices, the Washington’s Governor’s residence had the gates torn down, the American flag was removed and replaced with a Trump flag and no one was arrested. Police officers were beaten and injured. Barely anyone was arrested. I could go on, but it would all end where I started. If the rioters were Black…it would have been handled very differently. It is and remains a tale of two Americas. And just like when a Black man gets shot in the back, America tells us we didn’t see what we saw. The problem is…we did see it. Now the world has seen it too.