Biden, Harris, activists blast double standard in police response

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris condemn the disparate treatment of Black versus white protesters after Capitol Hill events.

On Wednesday, police said 68 arrests were made, the majority for breaking a curfew put in place by the mayor of Washington, DC [Ahmed Gaber/Reuters]

President-elect Joe Biden noted on Thursday the double standard in law enforcement’s response to the breaching of Capitol Hill by an insurrectionist mob and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters demanding racial justice in the United States.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they would have been treated very, very differently than a mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said in a speech on Thursday in Wilmington, Delaware, where he was introducing nominees for his Department of Justice.

“We all know that’s true. And it is unacceptable.”

President-elect Joe Biden noted on Thursday the double standard in law enforcement’s response to the breaching of Capitol Hill by an insurrectionist mob and the Black Lives Matter protesters demanding racial justice in the United States [Susan Walsh/AP Photo]

During Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests that erupted across the country in the middle of 2020, law enforcement deployed overwhelming force in dozens of cities, including the use of chemical dispersants, rubber bullets and hand-to-hand combat with largely peaceful crowds and some unruly vandals and looters. More than 14,000 were arrested.

On Wednesday, police said 68 arrest were made, the majority for breaking a curfew put in place by the mayor of Washington, DC. This, despite the fact that several weapons seized and improvised explosive devices found. Members of a wilding mob were seen being escorted from the premises, some not even in handcuffs.

Vice President Kamala Harris, a former attorney general of California, said the US justice system does not apply in the same way to white and Black people in the US, rich and poor, and pledged to address the disparity.

“The challenge we’re facing in our country is about more than the actions of the few we watched yesterday,” she said on Thursday.

“It’s about how to reform how to transform a justice system that does not work equally for all,” she said, “a justice system that is experienced differently depending on whether you’re white or Black.”

Black Lives Matter protesters are arrested by NYPD officers on the Brooklyn Bridge, Wednesday, July 15, 2020, in New York. Several New York City police officers were attacked and injured Wednesday onBlack Lives Matter protesters are arrested by NYPD officers on the Brooklyn Bridge, in New York [Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo]

Activists and commentators rushed to blast what they said was a blatant display of racist double standards when it comes to policing Black protesters versus a mob of largely white supporters of President Donald Trump.

“When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets,” the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation said in a statement.

“When white people attempt a coup, they are met by an underwhelming number of law enforcement personnel who act powerless to intervene, going so far as to pose for selfies with terrorists,” it said.

DC National Guard Military Police officers and law enforcement officers line up during a protest against the death of George Floyd, near the White House in Washington, DC [File: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters]

In June, Trump administration officials had federal officers clear BLM protesters with flash-bang grenades and tear gas, to facilitate a now-infamous photo-op in front of a church near the White House while holding up a Bible upside-down.

Former presidents Barack Obama, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter also weighed in with expressions of consternation, some of them placing blame squarely on Trump.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama also commented on the issue.

“This summer’s Black Lives matter protests were overwhelmingly peaceful movements,” she said in a statement she shared on Twitter.

“And yet, in city after city, day after day we saw peaceful protesters met with brute force,” she said.

The Capitol building itself echoes the racial divide. It was built with help from enslaved Africans, whose blood and sweat later allowed union leaders to meet there and strategise its battle against pro-slavery Confederates.

On Wednesday, images emerged showing Black custodial staffers in the Capitol sweeping up the shards of glass and rubbish left behind by the rioters.

A worker cleaning up debris outside the US Capitol a day after supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in Washington, DC, US [Erin Scott/Reuters]

NAACP President Derrick Johnson said the people who violated the Capitol on Wednesday should not be seen as patriotic.

“This is not protesting or activism; this is an insurrection, an assault on our democracy, and a coup incited by President Trump,” Johnson said.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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