DC Police Made More Arrests At Black Lives Matter Protests Than During Capitol Riot
Police in Washington DC made five times more arrests at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests than during the pro-Trump Capitol riot.
Throughout 2020, protesters took to the streets all across the world fighting against police brutality and racial inequality. While there was some looting and rioting, rallies were often peaceful and escalated by the heavy-handed tactics of law enforcement.
Whereas on January 6, when Trump extremists stormed the Capitol armed with ‘chemical irritant, metal pipes’ and other weapons, arrests were shockingly slim as footage emerged of supporters being allowed into the building. The subsequent police data further illustrates the stark contrast between the two responses.
As per CNN analysis of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) data, 316 arrests were made in Washington DC on June 1, 2020, considered somewhat of a peak in the BLM protests. This was also the same day as Trump’s Bible photoshoot outside St. John’s Episcopal Church, in which he used law enforcement to clear the area of protesters with tear gas.
On January 6, DC police made a total of 61 ‘unrest-related’ arrests, with many detained on far less serious charges (such as misdemeanor curfew violations or unlawful entry charges) despite the seditious nature of their behaviour. Felony charges are still possible as prosecutors pursue more cases.
Five people died as a result of the riot, including one police officer. If including the 14 arrests made by US Capitol officers, the total is still less than a fourth of those arrested on June 1. Many Black Lives Matter protesters continually faced burglary and rioting charges.
Anthony Lorenzo Green, an activist leading the Black Lives Matter DC group, told the outlet if they’d tried to storm the Capitol, ‘we would be shackled, we would be carried away, we would be shot, we would be dead’.
He said: ‘It’s so, so insulting to racial justice activists that have been bringing attention to Black lives that have been lost. The way they chose to secure the Capitol was to let everybody go – they let these people back on our streets.’
Many have pointed out the contrast between the responses of law enforcement, with imagery from the riot showing officers assisting people down steps and taking selfies inside the building.
President-elect Joe Biden said: ‘No-one can tell me that if that had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol.’
Discussing the lack of arrests, Kristen Metzger, an MPD spokeswoman, said: ‘When we announce [a curfew] in advance, we have enough resources to get people into the vans and we’re ready to make mass arrest. Since this was done so late in the day, we weren’t ready to make mass arrests like that until the curfew was put in place later that afternoon.’
However, considering the extensive planning by supporters prior to the riot, others are sceptical over the lack of preparation from law enforcement.
Monica Hopkins, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union in DC, said: ‘For any law enforcement agency in this city to say they were caught flat-footed or they didn’t know what was coming is just incredibly false.’
Amid calls to remove Trump from office, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described the events at the Capitol as ‘a failure of leadership at the top’. In response to the furious criticism from all corners of the globe, US Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has since resigned along with two other senior security officials.
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