Five months ago, Donald Trump tweeted the following:
Anarchists, Agitators or Protestors who vandalize or damage our Federal Courthouse in Portland, or any Federal Buildings in any of our Cities or States, will be prosecuted under our recently re-enacted Statues & Monuments Act. MINIMUM TEN YEARS IN PRISON. Don’t do it! @DHSgov
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2020
He was responding to “left-wing violence,” “dangerous radical leftists,” and “radical ANTIFA” supposedly wreaking havoc in Portland, Ore. during Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests this summer over the hyper-militarization of America’s police forces in the wake of the Minneapolis police murder of George Floyd.
Yet on Wednesday, when a mob of Trump loyalists descended on Washington, D.C. for the sole purpose of disrupting the joint session of Congress from performing its constitutional duty of certifying the presidential election, the country witnessed more destruction, lawlessness, and disrespect than anything of which ANTIFA and BLM have been baselessly accused.
The insurrection is naturally raising many questions.
One has to do with how the Capitol, one of the most secure government citadels in the country, was breached so easily.
Meta to that is how hundreds of domestic terrorist Trump supporters were able to overpower police, snap selfies with them, and gain access to lawmakers’ offices–including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s–when peaceful protesters and journalists are met with riot police firing tear gas and rubber bullets, unidentified federal officers, U.S. Marshals, and the National Guard.
The Guardian reported this week:
“The Black Lives Matter demonstrators crowd outside the White House on 1 June was a block away from the building and made no attempt to breach its security. It was a mostly Black crowd, and it was charged by a force made up of Washington police, US Park police, over 5,000 national guard troops and federal agencies like the Bureau of Prisons. An army helicopter swooped low over the heads of the protesters. Teargas, batons and horses were used to clear a block so that Donald Trump could stage a photo op outside a church across the road. A national guard commander later admitted there had been ‘excessive use of force.’
“The mob that stormed the seat of US democracy on Wednesday had openly talked about such a plan, were explicitly intent on overturning a fair election, and some had hinted they might be carrying guns. They were almost all white. Many were openly white supremacists, and yet the thin Capitol police collapsed in their path.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser requested the National Guard activated on Tuesday, the day before the unrest.
But Washington, D.C. being a district, not a state, means there is no governor to command deployment, leaving it up to the Defense Department for authorization.
Trump, though, was unwilling to send in the Guard.
He had no problem doing so when he wanted to waltz across the street to Lafayette Park for a photo op with a Bible in June, however.
It took Vice President Mike Pence, of all people, to finally take the lead on mobilizing the Guard this week.
Author and scholar Ibram X Kendi tweeted during the riot:
White privilege is on display like never before in the U.S. Capitol.
If these people were Black. . .well, we all know what would be happening right now to them.
— Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) January 6, 2021
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams added:
“They scaled the walls, they had pipe bombs, they broke windows, they fought with police. They were met with shrugs and selfies.”
Former NYPD officer, Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, asked:
“Where were the rubber bullets yesterday? Where was the tear gas yesterday? What I witnessed yesterday clearly shows that there are several laws that were violated-obstruction of justice, destruction of federal property, assault on an officer, insurrection and seditious conspiracy.”
Antiracist activist, Bree Newsome Bass, who made headlines in 2015 when she scaled the flagpole outside the South Carolina state Capitol and tore down the Confederate flag, told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
“[It’s impossible not to note] the obvious difference in terms of how police have a coordinated, overtly militarized response to any kind of protest that is challenging racism in policing or racism in the government versus what we witnessed yesterday. It is very clear that the primary function of police forces in the United States is to enforce racism above enforcing public safety.”
A video taken this summer before “blue lives matter” adherent Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire and killed two BLM protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin shows police tossing water bottles to armed civilians. One officer broadcasted “We appreciate you being here” via loudspeaker.
After he had murdered the protesters, he proceeded to walk down the street toward police with his arms up, rifle slung across his chest.
Yet not a single police officer stopped him, despite witnesses identified him to police as the one who had just committed murder.
He was allowed to waltz by while police chose to respond to the “bigger threat”–BLM protesters.
He made it all the way back home before turning himself in.
He was allowed to walk free two months ago after My Pillow CEO and Donald Trump supporter, Mike Lindell, ex-child actor Rick Schroder, and conservative groups such as FightBackLaw.com, pitched in to pay his two-million dollar bail
Armed whites, on the hand, intent on causing chaos and civil unrest, can break into the Capitol, attack police officers, take selfies with them, break into the House Speaker’s office, steal her podium, take a picture with their feet up on her desk, and smear feces in the hallways. (Yes, they did that too.)
Via Getty, one the rioters steals a podium from the Capitol pic.twitter.com/V4spojl40q
— Ryan Lizza (@RyanLizza) January 6, 2021
What happens to them?
Sure, some are getting arrested.
Dylan Roof was arrested after massacring nine churchgoers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC in 2015.
But his arresting officers bought him food from Burger King.
Several died from this week’s attempted coup, including a Capitol police officer.
Four died in the embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, for which Hillary Clinton–since she was Secretary of State at the time–spent the next four year being publicly pilloried, vilified, and humiliated.
Is Trump going to face the same scrutiny?
The assertion the violence “just erupted” is false.
Trump loyalists all over the country have been planning insurrections for months, acting on their dear leader’s insistence either he win or the election is rigged.
There was some in D.C. in December.
Two days before Wednesday’s melee, The Hill ran the headline “DC braces for pro-Trump protests amid Electoral College challenge.”
Back in June, historian Nils Gilman, Berggruen Institute vice president of programs and co-founder of the Transition Integrity Project (TIP), helped organize a bipartisan group of Democratic and Republican officials to simulate the day after a possibly contested election.
And every scenario, unfortunately, resulted in “street-level violence.”
The attempted coup d’etat on Wednesday was no accident, nor was the way it was handled.
Is this the final wake-up call we’ve been waiting for, or just another alarm bell we will ignore?
Image credit: Nowcastsa