NEW ORLEANS — Images of the day the United States Capitol building was stormed bring a few emotions to mind for Vernon Wesley Thomas, a local attorney and army judge advocate general major.
“Had that been a group of individuals of color that had stormed the capitol, people would have not been allowed to go through the capitol -- our Nation’s Capitol -- with such reckless abandon like that," said Vernon Wesley Thomas.
Like people walking through the Nation’s Capitol waving confederate flags. For Black Americans, symbols of white supremacy.
“That is a standout, straight-up symbol of separatism,” Thomas said.
In the year that has passed, over 700 people have been arrested for storming the Capitol with charges ranging from obstruction of justice to assault.
Around a tenth of those individuals have been sentenced so far. More are expected to be sentenced soon.
On the anniversary of the Jan. 6th Capitol Riot, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise issued a statement blaming democratic leadership for the current state of our country.
“LIberal and progressive politicians refuse to take responsibility for their extreme policies like defunding the police” – defund the police being a movement born out of the summer protest sparked by the death of George Floyd.
Thomas says that’s a “no go.”
Thomas says from his office located on North Claiborne he witnessed the clashes between protestors and NOPD. His building was even tagged with “no justice no peace” in the height of the protest.
But, he says it’s wrong to equate the capitol riot with the George Floyd protests.
He says the riots in Washington D.C. came after dozens of court cases failed so show the 2020 election was stolen, while the 2020 summer protests came after clear video of a Black man killed at the hands of police.
“Even the most diehard police advocate could not find any justification for what they did,” Thomas said. “Eight minutes and 13 seconds on a man’s neck. How do you expect him to survive that?”
Now, a year later, Thomas says he remains optimistic that there is still hope for a truly united United States of America, but he also says it won’t come easy.
“It’s going to take both sides to righteously hear one another about what the grievances are what the problems are,” he said. “we need to make sure we are having that dialogue and that discourse and that bottom line we come up with solutions that will work for everybody, because they can.”