There has never been a more stark example of endemic racism than what happened in the days and hours leading up to the attempted coup on January 6th, 2021.
Now I don’t believe for one moment the Chief of the US Capitol Police intentionally underprepared for those days events in the hope the crowd would act as they did. But clearly there was a lack of preparation on their part. The same with the MDC Police who, three days before this planned and emotionally charged gathering of Trump supporters parroting the lies of a fraudulent election, refused the pre-placement of National guardsmen.
These inactions led to police officers being overwhelmed by violent protesters and the murder of a US Capitol Policeman. The restraint demonstrated by those front-line officers was remarkable. It is the only bright moment from this dark day. We can hope the restraint was a matter of choice, not simply being outnumbered or, worse, the racial makeup of the protesters.
But the evidence of differential treatment before our eyes is unmistakable. Those in a position to plan for such eventualities saw no need to prepare for the real possibility of violent confrontation. In contrast, the preparation for protests by Black Lives Matter and other such groups engendered an entirely different response, one that assumed there would be violence.
It begs the question why?
Either intentionally, or subconsciously, those in command of these agencies saw predominantly black majority protests as inherently dangerous and, in troubling contrast, saw the predominantly white majority protest as without similar risks.
The stark difference is black and white. They may not have said it out loud, but clearly the implication was, “you gotta watch out for them Black folk. You know how they can be.”
This piece will not endear me to many of my brethren in law enforcement, but the reality is endemic racism is insidious, dangerous, and fraught with peril unless we address it with determination. As my good friend Matt Horace said in his book, The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement
Even the responses of those looking to rationalize the actions on January 6th, making outlandish comparisons that at least this action was less violent than the BLM-led protests over the summer, are troubling as if this false relativism equals a rational justification.
And the man in the middle of this firestorm, who once demanded Governors and Mayors summon the National Guard with historically racists taunts like, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” forcefully resisted calling in the Guard. When his Proud Boy, white supremacist, Confederate Flag waving anarchists were violating the sanctity of the people’s house Mr. Trump watched it on television as his “great patriots” made him proud.
Joe Biden faces an enormous task. To take back the bully pulpit from the racist mob and heal a shattered American reputation in a world horrified by the reality of our systemic racist legacy.
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