Violence at Capitol highlights double standards in America

If Black Lives Matter protesters had been the ones storming the Capitol, would they still be alive?

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Courtesy of CNN

The contrasting measures taken break up right wing and Black Lives Matter protests has made many believe that “there have always been two Americas”.

Emmy Burrus, Co Editor-in-Chief

Democracy was put in jeopardy on Jan. 6 when thousands of President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol building. With no regard for the well-being of America, these rioters put the lives of the vice president, senators, congressmen and women, police officers, and other government officials in danger.

So far, five people have died as a result of this violence created by President Trump, who urged his supporters to march to the Capitol to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Though he did tell the rioters in a taped message many hours later to “go home,” he added “we love you, you’re very special.”

Despite the anarchy and fear created by these so-called protesters and “patriots,” none of them were shot at with rubber bullets, and it wasn’t until law enforcement tried to reclaim the Capitol building several hours later that tear gas was deployed.

Apparently these tactics are strictly reserved for Black Lives Matter protesters, the majority of whom are peaceful demonstrators mourning and advocating for the loss of innocent Black lives.

From May 1 to Nov. 28, 2020, protests led by left-wing groups were twice as likely to be broken up by authorities than those of the right, according to data from the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, led by Roudabeh Kishi. This six-month period was during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement, reflecting how extremely different these protesters were treated compared to Trump and other far-right supporters.

This study defined left-wing protests as those that are anti-Trump, pro-Biden, or associated with the Black Lives Matter movement, the Democratic Party, or left-wing movements like antifa. Right-wing groups are defined in this context as pro-Trump, anti-Biden, pro-police, and/or in support of the Republican Party.

In these situations, authorities used force with the left 51 percent of the time, and only 34 percent with the right, even though 93 percent of Black Lives Matter protests were peaceful, according to the study.

According to Kishi, the response was still disproportionately aggressive towards left-leaning protests even when solely peaceful protests are analyzed.

 “Even if we were to put those [7] percent of demonstrations aside and look purely at peaceful [BLM protests], we are seeing a more heavy handed response [compared with right-wing protests],” Kishi said to FiveThirtyEight.

The attempted coup at the Capitol was far from a peaceful protest.

As President-Elect Joe Biden said, if those storming the Capitol had been Black Lives Matter protesters, they would have been treated “very differently.”

The Trump supporters came to Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6 to put a halt to democracy, ending the peaceful transitions of power that our country has always known. Rioters came to put a stop to this democratic process, and were even allowed in by some capitol police officers. Some officers found it okay to take selfies with them as they were breaching the Capitol, and removed metal barriers to allow them in. 

But when Black Lives Matter protesters came together to draw attention to the killing of innocent Black people at the hands of police, they were greeted with violence.

More than 950 instances of police brutality at American anti-racist protests were recorded from May to October of 2020 by Bellingcat and Forensic Architecture and analyzed by The Guardian, including 19 instances in which law enforcement ignored confrontations with the far right.

This shows the jarring double standard present in America today. If White Trump supporters want to illegally invade the Capitol building, they can roam around and do so without being arrested. But if people of color and allies want to bring attention to racial injustice, they’re the real threat.

Those who stormed the Capitol waved Confederate flags, wore antisemitic attire, and openly spread messages of hate, but were treated as people. This was the first time the Stars and Bars had been in the White House – something former Confederate President Jefferson Davis could only have dreamt of happening.

Black Lives Matter protesters have been treated as thugs and criminals, while their central message has always been to bring justice to the Black community and to others impacted by police violence.

Now the question is, when will this violence end? With the new administration coming into the White House shortly, far-right Trump supporters may be more fired up then ever. Biden will have to work very hard to calm them down, while also taking a stand for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Though this seems like an insurmountable task, it is one he will have to tackle to bring some sort of peace and unity to America.