NEW YORK – Black Lives Matter protests, 2020: Overwhelming force from law enforcement in dozens of cities. Chemical dispersants. Rubber bullets and hand-to-hand combat with largely peaceful crowds and some unruly vandals and looters. More than 14,000 arrests.
The U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021: Barely more than a few dozen arrests. Several weapons seized, improvised explosive devices found. Members of a wilding mob escorted from the premises, some not even in handcuffs.
The key difference? The first set of protesters were overwhelmingly Black Americans and their allies. The second group was overwhelmingly white Americans who support outgoing President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud.
The violent breaching of the halls of power on Capitol Hill by the insurrectionist mob on Wednesday, which left one woman dead of a police gunshot wound, represents one of the plainest displays of a racial double standard in both modern and recent history.
“When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation said in a statement.
“When white people attempt a coup, they are met by an underwhelming number of law enforcement personnel who act powerless to intervene, going so far as to pose for selfies with terrorists,” it said.
Broad and bipartisan condemnation of the insurrectionist mob came swiftly as they had a nearly unhindered, hours-long run of the Capitol building complex, the Senate chamber and the House speaker’s office. The ordeal drew expressions of bewilderment and disbelief from some observers who believed such a display was impossible in a democracy as revered as America’s.
However, the response to the mayhem is consistent with a long pattern of society’s coddling of racists and downplaying the violent white supremacist ideology that routinely places the grievances of white people above those of their Black, often disenfranchised and downtrodden countrymen and women.