The difference in police response to BLM protests and Capitol riots was unacceptable

Side-by-side comparison of police response to BLM (left) and Capitol riots (right).

PHOTO COURTESY OF WASHINGTON POST & NEW YORK MAGAZINE

Side-by-side comparison of police response to BLM (left) and Capitol riots (right).

Aidan Jones, Features Editor

When Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests broke out across the nation, Former President Donald Trump was quick to stop the action. When his own supporters stormed the Capitol, he took little action, and when he did, he was insincere. 

I think that the difference in the responses from the police, and especially from the President at the time, is unacceptable. Admittedly, law enforcement was under Former President Trump’s command, however I still think that a combination of the two are at fault.

During the BLM movements, police swiftly and brutally responded. There were peaceful protests, looting, and a few violent protests, most of which were instigated by police. The police cracked down on all of these, showing no mercy. They used tear gas and shot rubber bullets. Now, I do not think that all police are bad, however, I do think that some of them have bad intentions. And with the amount of power that they have, it can be potentially dangerous to the people they are supposed to protect. One thing that irritated me most was when Former President Trump had a number of peaceful BLM protesters tear-gassed so he could have the press take pictures of him holding a Bible while standing in front of St John’s Church, which had been desecrated the night before. This act was viewed as a cheap stunt by many and came across as a failure of Former President Trump attempting to pay his respects. The message obviously did not come out the way he intended, in fact it caused more outrage. Was that photo really worth tear gassing a large crowd of peaceful protestors? Would it have been better to have just laid low?

The riots at the Capitol were predictable. The police force definitely could have reacted sooner. Many heard about the plans through Twitter and through Former President Trump’s speech. Even once the riots started, it took three hours to respond. Yes, admittedly there were thousands of rioters, but the D.C. police should still be able to react quicker. In a survey of 210 Madison students, 97.2% agreed that law enforcement should have responded faster to the attacks on the Capitol.

“There was a huge difference between how both of these attacks were handled, Vanessa Chalabi (’21) said. “In no way is it ever okay to use tear gas, however, that is what happened at the BLM protests. At the Capitol riot police officers were taking selfies with people who had shown up. MAJOR differences.”

What I can’t fathom is why there was such a difference. Police forces acted so harshly to protesters, even when they were peaceful. People were arrested or contained within minutes for protesting or looting. When looking at the insurrection on Capitol Hill, rioters passed the premises onto the restricted area, and almost nobody stopped them. For the police officers that did, they were attacked. There was not enough police force to stop the group. The mob even broke into the Capitol and security boarded up the doors and took aim. Members of the Senate were put into secure places and some were evacuated. Even though all of this was happening, extra police and the National Guard hadn’t been called yet. Even more irritating is that the following day, Former President Trump claimed that he had called in the National Guard, though further information later indicated that Former Vice President Mike Pence actually called in the National Guard, not Trump. 

The difference between these scenarios is disgusting. It is just a display of the blatant racism in this country and the narcissistic views that Trump has. I find it really unfortunate that Trump was able to delude his supporters and tell them that storming the Capitol would protect our country when all it did was tear it further apart. Most of the BLM protests were peaceful and are a Constitutional right.