WASHINGTON — It’s been one of the biggest topics discussed following the riots and mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists who broke into the U.S.Capitol Wednesday. The difference in the way the pro-Trump rioters were treated in comparison to Black Lives Matter protests from over the summer.
Dr. Michael Fauntroy is a D.C. native and professor at Howard University. “I've heard some try to defend this by saying they didn’t want to overreach like they did during the summer, but to do nothing, as what happened yesterday is way worse.”
Dr. Fauntroy said the clear distinction in the way Trump supporters were not met with force in comparison to Black Lives Matter protesters highlights what many African Americans already knew.
“Because everybody knew this was going to happen. Everybody knew January 6th was a date. I think it says a lot about the preparation, on Capitol Hill, or the lack thereof, that they essentially just allowed these people to walk through the Capitol and defile the symbol of American democracy to the rest of the world,” Dr. Fauntroy added.
We spoke with Trump protesters on Thursday after they witnessed a mob of people take over the Capitol. One woman who came from New York said she now sees the parallels. “I support the movement of Black Lives Matter, but I don’t support the way things happened. And in New York, I witnessed a lot of bad things that happened, but again I don’t support the way things happened here in swarming the Capitol building. So, I think I feel the same way about both sides in certain things.” she said.
But Dr. Fauntroy wonders if the new-found sympathy is genuine. “Is that what they’re empathizing with? Or are they empathizing with the coverage of it? I think there's a distinction. I don't know the person that you just referred to, it sounds to be talking about the way in which the public perceives their actions, not necessarily the righteousness of the issues in which Black Lives Matter is associated with,” Dr. Fauntroy said.
The same sentiments were echoed by neighbors who live in DC and saw both protest first hand. “If that was Black Lives Matter, they’d have tanks rolling down Pennsylvania Ave.” a man shouted from his D.C. home.
After the Capitol breach, 1,100 D.C. National Guard troops were deployed, and hundreds of federal law enforcement officers were sent in to assist. Compare that to June, when around 5,000 guardsmen and 1,600 active duty troops were brought to the D.C. area in advance of protests following the death of George Floyd.
Like most of the country, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser is wondering why federal aid wasn’t brought in sooner, something she has no power to do. “We must also understand why the federal law enforcement response was much stronger at the protests over the summer than yesterday’s attack on Congress,” Mayor Bowser said.
President Elect Joe Biden, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and host of other leaders around the nation have spoken out against the mayhem we all witnessed. Dr. Fauntroy believes for us all to move forward, change will have to come from within from those who participated in the taking of the Capitol.
“Ultimately, this comes down to behavioral change and it's really early to know whether or not things that have said and done yesterday and today around this actually result in any behavioral change at the ballot box in terms of the way people feel about public policy.” Dr. Fauntroy said.