On Wednesday, January 6th, supporters of former US President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol, damaging, ransacking and occupying the Capitol building for hours after contravening several police parameters.
The rally was in essence, incited by Trump’s repeated comments refuting the results of the 2020 US Presidential election, which named Joe Biden as the President-Elect.
Trump had publicly claimed that he felt that the victory was “stolen from him”, and however ill-advised and factually inaccurate -- many of his supporters seemingly felt the same, attacking the Capitol where the Congress was meeting to officially confirm Joe Biden’s victory.
The lawmakers and staff inside the building were forced to take shelter in the middle of this process, while the Capitol building property was damaged and had to be put under lockdown, as armed Trump supporters loomed the halls and private offices.
However, what truly shocked the entire world more than the extreme hooliganism displayed by the attackers, was the leniency with which they were dealt with by police.
The police were not only sympathetic to the rowdy crowd, but also failed to secure the Capitol, with some videos giving the appearance that they even opened the gate.
The attitude of the police in dealing with the attackers opens up bigger and more urgent conversations on the connection of race and politics to the criminal justice system.
Trump and his supporters, some of whom were involved in the Capitol attack, were white supremacists who refused to accept Biden’s victory and decided to destroy the Capitol.
Last year, when Black Lives Matter activists were peacefully protesting the murder of George Floyd by a white police officer, they were met by the police with violence, tear gas and arrests.
The difference in treatment of the two sets of crowds bears evidence to the deep hypocrisy and racist attitudes that the United States justice system holds.
It makes one wonder, what would have happened if the Capitol protesters were people of colour? Would they receive the same treatment as the white supremacists who attacked the building, or would they be severely wounded, assaulted and even shot dead by the police?
The answer to that question becomes even more and more clear when we take a look at how the police in the United States have historically dealt with people of colour and particularly people from the Black community.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Walter Scott and so many more were all Black individuals who were innocent and yet were killed by the US police in the most brutal ways, without any evidence of crime or any justification.
And yet, when Trump supporters, who lawmakers and experts alike are calling “domestic terrorists” damaged national property and committed vandalistic crimes, the police on-site did nothing -- even when the evidence for arresting these people was right in front of them.
What happened at the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6 was essentially a bigger manifestation of what has been happening in the United States for centuries now, and this became apparent in how few people were surprised.
The deep-seated racism is evident and raises a big question.
In a leading nation like the US, where white privilege excuses an individual from atrocious crimes and having a darker skin colour leads to an innocent individual getting shot, will the world ever be a safe place for people of colour?
One commentary from Twitter crystallizes the emotions felt by so many on that day: “We aren’t asking you to shoot them, we are asking you not to shoot us like you don’t shoot them.”
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