As police and city officials continue to investigate the chaos that broke out during last weekend’s pro-Donald Trump rally in Washington, D.C., one Black Lives Matter organizer is calling out local authorities for their failure to properly enforce the protests.
“If Black people and people of color was to act like this, they would have done what they’ve been doing since [the] George Floyd protests started. Tear gassing us, beating us and arresting us,” Black Lives Matter DC co-organizer Nee Nee Taylor told WTOP on Sunday.
Taylor’s accusation comes after the pro-Trump ralliers, which included the Proud Boys, were involved in violent stabbing attacks related to the protests. D.C. Police have also identified four churches that were vandalized over the weekend, including one incident in which a group of white men marched with and subsequently set fire to a Black Lives Matter banner torn from one of the churches, reports the Washington Post.
D.C. Police say they arrested 38 people during the protests, ten of whom were charged with assault on a police officer, reports the Post. According to D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, eight officers were injured, one seriously.
The attacks on the churches are being investigated as hate crimes, Newsham said.
D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) was quick to condemn the protesters following the violence.
“These Proud Boys are avowed white nationalists and have been called to stand up against a fair and legal election,” Bowser said. “This is a symptom of the hateful rhetoric, anti-science noise and people who refuse to accept the result of a fair American election.”
Newsham also placed blame on the Proud Boys. According to his estimates, pro-Trump ralliers outnumbered anti-Trump groups by “a ratio of about 6 or 7 to 1.”
“At the end of the day considering the volume of people who came, considering the volume of folks that seemed inclined to get into physical confrontations, I was pretty impressed with the police response,” Newsham said.
But the police chief also characterized the violent clashes between the two groups as involving “mutual combatants” despite the disproportionate numbers.
Taylor says that Mayor Bowser and Newsham, despite their rhetoric, dropped the ball on managing the pro-Trump demonstrators, who convened in the nation’s capital to throw their support behind the outgoing president ahead of Monday’s electoral college votes (surprising exactly no one still tethered to reality, Biden received electoral votes from all the states Trump had baselessly contested).
Taylor says Black Lives Matter demonstrators were on hand on Saturday to protect Black Lives Matter Plaza—namely, a portion of fencing that was “adorned with protest artwork and posters,” writes WTOP.
It was important to preserve the plaza as a safe space, Taylor said, and BLM demonstrators took shifts in an attempt to protect the area.
According to Taylor, police did little to prevent Proud Boys and other pro-Trump protesters from destroying Black Lives Matter signage and antagonizing people in the plaza.
“I would ask the police, ‘Why are you allowing them to incite violence?’” Taylor said. “They were coming to harass us and threaten us.”
She drew comparisons to the way BLM protesters were treated at their rallies in the city over the summer, noting that the heavy-handed enforcement racial justice demonstrators saw in D.C. didn’t seem to apply to the majority-white protesters this weekend.
“That happened to none of the Proud Boys,” she said, later adding, “I hold Mayor Bowser responsible for this.”