Surprising no one, but confirming of us what many suspected while watching a free-wheeling mass of Trump supporters break into the U.S. Capitol building, police in Washington D.C. arrested far less rioters in the white supremacist insurrection than they did during a single day of racial justice protests in the city this summer.
A CNN investigation of Metropolitan Police Department records unveiled this latest evidence of the massive differences in how law enforcement treats white Americans—and causes related to the goals of white Americans—as compared to Black people and movements against racism.
DC police arrested more than five times as many people at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests last summer than they did during the day of insurrection at the Capitol, according to a CNN analysis of Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) data. And many of those arrested amid this week’s unrest were detained on less serious charges.
The stark disparity in arrests came even though more DC officers were injured during the Capitol mayhem, which left five people dead, including a police officer.
The District’s police made 61 “unrest-related” arrests on Wednesday, compared with 316 on June 1, when protesters and rioters filled city streets a week after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd. That was the same day as Trump’s infamous Bible-holding photo op, when law enforcement officers dispersed mostly peaceful protesters with tear gas.
As you might remember, the Black Lives Matter protests in D.C. in June 1 drew a severe response from local police, U.S. Park Police, Secret Service agents, and troops from the National Guard who deployed rubber bullets and tear gas at peaceful protestors so Trump could take pictures and play at being a strong and religious man. Literally hundreds of protestors were arrested on that day. Meanwhile, the Capitol was overrun by Trump rioters yet U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) only arrested around 14 people on Wednesday alongside the 61 nabbed by the MPD. A Washington Post report says Capitol Police’s arrest records show that over the past year up to January 6th, the department had arrested over 300 people for illegally entering or causing disturbances in and near the Capitol.
As the CNN report points out—the discrepancy in the police response in the case of the Trump mob is made even more apparent when you note that a law enforcement officer was actually KILLED as a result of Wednesday’s insurrection, while no cops died in D.C. during this summer’s protests. The USCP has also said that more than 50 officers from their department and the MPD sustained serious injuries in the Capitol siege with several hospitalized as a result.
An MPD spokesperson told CNN that they didn’t make as many arrests on Wednesday as they did when the cause was Black lives because they weren’t called in by Capitol police until the Trump mob had already stormed the federal building on Wednesday. Meanwhile, U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund has said his department had only anticipated “first amendment activities”—a telling euphemism and unconvincing justification, since white supremacists online had been signaling their violent plans in the nation’s capital for weeks. Though Sund (who has since announced his plans to resign) admitted that what ultimately took place on January 6 was “criminal riotous behavior,” most of those arrested by the USCP and MPD at the insurrection were booked on misdemeanors. In the case of the June 1 Black Lives Matter protests, at least 30 people were slapped with felony charges.
Perhaps part of the reason the police was so circumspect with their arrests and charges on Wednesday was because some of the rioting crowd included their own—a Politico report references a post made by a MPD officer who said off-duty police officers and members of the military flashed their badges to enter the Capitol during the insurrection. The Seattle Police Department has since confirmed that two of its officers were at the Capitol on Wednesday and that an investigation is now underway to see if they played a role in the insurrection, according to the Seattle Times.
The Root has reached out to the US Capitol Police to inquire about the small number of rioters arrested on Wednesday and why the charges laid against many of them were misdemeanors rather than felonies. Federal prosecutors, however, have begun charging many of those suspected in the fracas at the Capitol with theft, violent conduct, and entering restricted buildings without lawful authority. The FBI has enlisted the public’s help in identifying suspects.