The Black Lives Matter movement is speaking out about the stark differences in how law enforcement has handled Wednesday's riots at the U.S. Capitol compared to their response to protests against racial injustice last year.
Hours after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol and occupied the Senate chamber, the Black Lives Matter Twitter account shared a lengthy thread calling out "hypocrisy in our country’s law enforcement response to protest."
"When Black people protest for our lives, we are met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, tear gas and battle helmets. When white people attempt a coup, they are met by an underwhelming number of law enforcement personnel who act powerless to intervene," the account tweeted.
"Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot," another tweet read.
The account went on to "call on" President Donald Trump — who addressed his supporters at a rally on Wednesday morning before they broke through the Capitol building's barriers that afternoon — "to stop fanning the flames of violence and lawlessness, and unequivocally urge his white supremacist and terrorist followers to step down and retreat. Our democracy is under attack and he is the lead instigator."
"We also urge Congress to promptly certify the U.S. Presidential election results and not cave to the threats of terrorists," the account tweeted.
Last summer, the National Guard was activated amid nationwide protests in the wake of the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed while in police custody. Protestors across the country were met with aggressive tactics — such as flash grenades and tear gas — from law enforcement, with journalists reporting that they were hit by rubber bullets and pepper balls while covering peaceful demonstrations.
On Wednesday, the parameters set around the Capitol were breached by Trump supporters shortly after 1:00 p.m., while lawmakers were inside to certify President-elect Joe Biden's November election win.
Amid the chaos, which caused the building to go into a lockdown, numerous politicians such as Vice President Mike Pence and Biden, condemned the riotous act and urged Trump to speak out against the mounting violence.
"President Trump, step up," Biden said during a televised address from Wilmington, Delaware.
"At this hour, our democracy is under unprecedented assault unlike anything we’ve seen in modern times. An assault in the citadel of liberty, the capital itself," Biden said in his speech. "An assault on the people’s representatives and the Capitol Hill Police sworn to protect them. An assault on the rule of law like few times we’ve ever seen it. An assault on the most sacred of American undertakings, the doing of people’s business."
Shortly after Biden's speech, Trump tweeted a video to the rioters, saying "we love you, you're very special," and doubling down down on the baseless claims of election fraud before adding, "we have to have peace, so go home." (The video has been removed or restricted from social channels including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, due to "risk of violence.")
The National Guard has since been activated, according to the acting Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller.
"We have fully activated the D.C. National Guard to assist federal and local law enforcement as they work to peacefully address the situation. We are prepared to provide additional support as necessary and appropriate as requested by local authorities. Our people are sworn to defend the constitution and our democratic form of government and they will act accordingly," Miller said in a statement.
Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman said in a statement on Wednesday that officials had previously only received two requests for the National Guard — one earlier this week for 340 guardsmen "to assist D.C. police in preparation for possible protests today" and one for "the full activation of the D.C. Guard to support local and federal law enforcement as they respond to the situation at the Capitol" — and both were approved.
"There have been no other requests from the D.C. government," Hoffman said.
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