In May, I saw police officers shoot rubber bullets at a group of black teenagers as they stood in place, holding Black Lives Matter signs. I saw a gun held in a black man’s face as he carried a toddler-aged child on his shoulders. The police and national guard were on standby. In the midst of tear gas and armored law authority, there was a palpable fear from these protestors that their lives were in danger. 19 people died.
Today, I watched hundreds of mask-less terrorists with Trump 2020 flags and MAGA hats storm Capitol Hill and fist-fight with police officers. I saw them run head-first into a group of officers and only get pushed back with batons, no excessive force used. Tear gas wasn’t used until rioters pushed through barricades, the national guard was deployed 5 hours after the riots began, and no rubber bullets were released. Instead, a video message was sent out from the president, in which he thanked rioters for their loyalty and urged them to go home — essentially a slap on the wrist and a “time out” order. 1 person was confirmed to be shot.
I could point out the clear disparities between how these two events were handled by the government, such as the way rioters were taking selfies with police officers and yelling that they are “on the wrong side,” but the situation speaks for itself.
It was clear during the BLM protests that the government had chosen a side; biases that have been brewing in their minds were enacted upon the moment they sent the national guard out to “protect the peace.” But it has become all the more glaringly obvious today that these biases run deep. They’re deep enough to let a hoard of angry, mask-less people not only march up to the Capitol Building, a federal building with intense security measures, but also set foot inside of it. The image of police stepping back as a group of smiling rioters vandalized the Capitol Building will forever be the symbol of white privilege that this country refuses to acknowledge.
There is a growing crack in America’s supposedly strong pillars that centuries of racist policies have led up to. It shows in the lack of fear these rioters had when they were faced with police authority. It shows in the friendly gestures exchanged between officers and rioters, even as they vandalized a federal building. It showed in the bloody aftermath of the Black Lives Matter protests and the excessive force used to appease a group of teenagers simply holding signs. Most importantly, it shows in the growing awareness that White America holds an unspeakable power in this country. While BLM protestors wore gear to protect themselves from police force, today’s rioters knew that they were not in danger. Why must they fear people who hold the same ideals as them?
The president has only confirmed this narrative with his refusal to condemn his supporters and his blatant encouragement of their violence. With a soft “we love you,” he thanked them for their actions and requested that they abide by the law. I can compare his gentle reprimand of these riots to the horrid response he had to BLM protestors, in which he called them “thugs,” but then I would be here all day.
And, yet, America still refuses to acknowledge the fact that this country is built upon a foundation of racism. Wake up. The same people that enslaved Black people and approved racist policies a few decades ago are still alive and in powerful positions as we speak. There is nothing barring you from seeing the reality except for the preconceived beliefs you hold. America is in shambles, and a Trump presidency has only furthered this country’s spiral into madness.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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