There is a lot to unpack after watching pro-Trump supports storm the U.S. Capitol building, but what stands out most to me is the blatant and embarrassing display of white supremacy. Here is why, with sources cited.
In 2020, over 14,000 people were arrested for participating in largely peaceful (Beckett, 2020; Cage, 2020; Mansoor, 2020) Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in response to the murders of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Daniel Prude, George Floyd, and Walter Wallace, among others: all Black, all murdered by police. BLM protestors across the country were met with brute force (Booker, 2021), including being subjected to teargas, pepper spray, and assault and battery. On January 6th, 2021, we saw hundreds of White nationalists storm the U.S. Capitol–arguably our country’s most protected building–with weapons and explosives, injuring dozens of police officers, killing one officer, and killing four civilians (Mascaro & Daly, 2021); however, only 52 were reported arrested on the 6th, primarily due to curfew violations (Diaz, 2021). Not only were most rioters allowed to exit capitol grounds without consequence, but Trump referred to them as “special” and expressed his love and empathy for the group in his nationwide video address (Swasey et al., 2021).
The thing is, I don’t even have to say what would have happened if this mob had been comprised of BIPOC or if this breach onto capitol grounds had been conducted by BLM protestors. We all know what would have happened. This country–police, politicians, and civilians alike–have shown how we respond to outrage when it comes to non-White people; we shoot at the suspicion of a weapon, we kneel on necks, we call them “thugs” (Booker, 2021), and we call the police when a Black child runs a lemonade stand. The actions of the pro-Trump mob proves one thing to me: the backlash I observed from so many in response to racial justice protests and calls to defund the police was never about supporting law enforcement; it was an excuse to both actively and passively support the racist rhetoric of Donald Trump, his allies, and uphold the structural racism that this country has been built on.
All this may sound like a broken record at this point; yet, to quote Reverend Jacqui Lewis (2021), I am tired (and angry) of living in a country that treats Black grief as a threat…