Let’s Compare: BLM Protestors vs Capitol Rioters


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BLM Protests, 2020: George Floyd, a Black man, is suffocated by a white police officer for over 8 minutes until he stops breathing and loses his life. Floyd’s crime: a counterfeit 20 dollar bill. Images of police brutality, victims and their loved ones surface across the internet. Many Americans are enraged. 

The streets overflow with protestors who condemn the police brutality, violence, racism and hate that black people have endured for over 150 years. Buildings are set on fire, items stolen from stores and businesses looted. BLM leaders continue to denounce riots and proclaim their desire for peace and equality. 

Former President Trump calls upon the National Guard to respond to the protests. He threatens “ominous weapons” if the protestors come too close to the White House. He also threatens to send the military to any cities who fail to control the protests.  According to the Washington Post, he declares he is “dispatching thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers, military personnel, and law enforcement officers to stop the rioting, looting, vandalism, assaults, and the wanton destruction of property.” Trump tells the world BLM protestors are thugs and anarchists and calls the property destruction “domestic acts of terrorism.” Conservatives everywhere deny the existence of white privilege and denounce the BLM movement. Trump calls a mural depicting the movement “a symbol of hatred.” 

According to Forbes, “on June 1 alone, more than five times the number of people (BLM supporters) were arrested than on the day the Capitol was stormed, with 289 people booked (Hart).” An estimated 14,000 arrests were made in 49 cities during BLM protests against racial inequality and police brutality. 


The Capitol Insurrection, 2021: Trump supporters, encouraged by Trump, attack the Capitol, a US federal government building, in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election results of a fair and free election. Hundreds of rioters congregate outside the building, stringing flags across its balconies, destroying federal property and carrying crowbars, sledgehammers and ropes. They erect a wooden structure and hang a noose from it.   They chant, “Hang Mike Pence!” (the former Vice President). 

Rioters breach police barricades around the Capitol, scale its walls, and shatter its windows to gain entrance.  Members of Congress are forced into lockdown as rioters flood the halls, posing for selfies and breaking into the offices of congress members. A man waves a Confederate flag. Other banners and flags are displayed, proclaiming white supremacy and displaying Nazi symbols. 

Outside, a Trump supporter beats a police officer to death. Another supporter beats a man with a fire extinguisher, causing injuries that will later lead to his death. A protestor cries for help as he is crushed in the mob. Many other people suffer injuries as a result of violence committed by the rioters.  

Inside the Capitol, insurrectionists carrying weapons, ammunition, and zip ties search in vain for the hidden members of Congress.  A video circulates of an officer aiding a Trump supporter down the Capitol stairs and back to safety. Another video appears of a police officer posing with a Trump supporter for a selfie. 

From the moment of the Capitol breach, over an hour passes before authorization for the DC National Guard is granted.  The first National Guard members do not arrive at the Capitol until three hours and 40 minutes after the Capitol is breached by armed insurrectionists (Farley).

A majority of the Capitol rioters are white. Only 52 people are arrested that day (Hart, Forbes). Trump airs a video of himself praising the Capitol insurrectionists, saying: “We love you,” and “You are very special.” 

Over the course of 2020, America’s divide deepened as Trump repeatedly refused to denounce white supremacists, told America COVID-19 was not real, and later that Joe Biden’s win was fraudulent during the 2020 election. The Capitol Insurrection was a sharp wake up call for America about the depth of this divide. It was also the explosive result of anti-democratic feeling and the infiltration of conspiracy theories that Trump encouraged and incited all throughout his presidency. While those who stormed the Capitol represent an extreme minority, the incident reveals the blatant hate and racism in our country. It also shows the stark contrast between the treatment of people of color and white people in America. Ultimately, it was a display of white supremacy. 

According to Forbes, “Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Oh.), a Democrat from Ohio, said it wasno question… (that) there is a double standard between how police treated Black Lives Matters protesters last summer and the pro-Trump supporters this week’ (Hart).” When BLM supporters peacefully protested, they were shot with rubber bullets, arrested, and pinned to the ground by law enforcement. According to the Atlantic, even those “standing still” were shown the full extent of state violence. A prime example of this double standard against BLM protestors is the protest that took place in Lafayette Square, Washington DC in June 2020. At this protest, peaceful protestors were forcibly removed by police officers so that Trump could have a clear path across the square for a photo-op of himself holding a bible. According to NPR, protestors received no verbal warning of the forced removal before police tear-gassed and assaulted them (Sprunt).

On the other hand, when Trump Supporters commited an act of domestic terrorism, the protestors-turned-rioters walked the halls of the Capitol with a feeling of impunity. Law enforcement’s response was intentionally delayed and weak. The National Guard was called far too late and by former Vice President Pence—not Trump. According to the Atlantic, “the Capitol Police knew about the potential threat of the incident but rejected offers to help from the FBI and the National Guard. Officials said that they wanted to avoid using federal force against Americans, as they had done this summer.” It is disturbing that “law enforcement assumed that they’d encounter violence from BLM protesters, but thought that a largely white crowd of pro-Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists would remain peaceful (Jackson, The Atlantic).”

The response of the Capitol Police to the threat was not the only disturbing aspect of the Capitol Insurrection. Rather, the most disturbing truth revealed at the Capitol Insurrection was the treatment of the Trump Supporters (a majority of them white) in comparison to BLM supporters. Those Trump supporters, who committed an act of domestic terrorism and endangered democracy itself, were offered far better treatment and afforded kindnesses that would never be afforded to BLM protestors or Black Americans themselves. Why were the BLM protestors treated as “anarchists and terrorists,” but the capitol’s terrorists were treated as “very special” people whom “we love”? In America, a black man can be publicly murdered by police after buying cigarettes with a counterfeit 20 dollar bill, and people will try to justify his death as deserved. A white person can commit a domestic act of terrorism, recieve a hand down the stairs, and walk free.