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So Where Were the Rubber Bullets & Tear Gas During the Washington Riot?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

On Wednesday, January 6th, 2020, Trump-supporting domestic terrorists (let’s call them what they are) [EDIT: the use of “terrorist” in this context has the potential to further endanger Black and brown Americans who are targeted by anti-terrorism acts, so using the term “white supremacist” instead will force the United States to confront the true issue at hand which is white supremacy] stormed the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. in a “March to Save America”. They chanted “Stop the Steal,” claiming that Biden “stole” the election from Trump – an idea reinforced by President Trump consistently over the past few months, and even right before the riot on Wednesday morning, where he stated, “We will never give up. We will never concede, it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”

So when the “Save America” March strolled past the D.C. police and walked right into the Capitol building, waving confederate flags and breaking the windows of the senate chambers, should we even be surprised that there was no police response in sight? Especially when the terrorists were waving Blue Lives Matter flags, shouting “ACAF” instead of “ACAB,” and congressmen were saluting them with a raised fist.

Washington Capitol
Photo by ElevenPhotographs from Unsplash

This attempted coup shouldn’t have surprised Americans. After all, the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, incited the action, suggesting in the rally on Wednesday morning, “Let’s have trial by combat.” Alt-right Trump supporters have been talking about the reckoning of January 6th for a while now. TikToks have warned of this day. Shirts announced a new Civil War would begin on January 6th.

But no preparations were made by the D.C. police or the National Guard. Republican representatives sent their families home in fear of violence after rhetoric they heard on the floor. But no preparations were made. There were angry Proud Boy protests on the streets of D.C. the days before January 6th. Multiple Trump supporters directly told reporters, “We won’t let them get away with it,” saying they had a plan for the congresspeople voting on the certification of specific state electoral votes. But no preparations were made.

And it begs the question: would it have been this easy if this was a Black Lives Matter protest?

Of course not. 

If you’ve been on Twitter at all in the past couple of days, or even the past few months, you’ve seen the comparison photos depicting police treatment of white, pro-Trump protesters versus Black Lives Matter protesters – or any other non-white human rights protesters. BLM supporters have had their eyes burst from rubber bullets fired directly into their faces. Completely peaceful protests to protect Indigenous lands were met with tear gas canons and baton beatings. Reporters covering BLM rallies have gotten teargassed and arrested. But a coup attempt from radical Trump supporters was met with an opened gate and selfies

Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude, who is the Chair of both the Center for African American Studies and the Department of African American Studies, discussed this very dynamic on The Public’s Radio on Thursday morning, and he made a compelling point: “[Certain kinds of people] are given certain kinds of leeway and other people are not…America is more comfortable with protests from the right than with the left.” 

It’s startlingly obvious when you realize governors called for armed reinforcements and curfews after one small-scale riot in the name of Black Lives Matter, but no reinforcements were called initially when alt-right fanatics, who had talked of civil war for months and have been known to produce violent extremists who commit murder, gather to rally behind a president who tells them not to be weak. It’s even more obvious when the president tells white, alt-right terrorists, “You’re special, I love you.” 

So what would the response have been if BLM protesters had broken into the Capitol building and attempted a coup? 

They wouldn’t have even gotten past the steps.

Lulu Amirault

U Mass Amherst '19

I'm a grad of UMass Amherst with two degrees in Classics and Communications (a random combination, I know.) I'm into graphic design, photography, and attempting to bullet journal throughout the month. You can usually find me hanging with my cat Gatsby and listening to Harry Styles.
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