By Yvonne Sam
A mob of thousands of President Donald Trump’s extremist supporters pushed their way into the U.S. Capitol, breaking windows, running through the halls of power, violently trying to reverse the outcome of a democratic election.
The most striking part of it all was, the joy, and sense of entitlement, emblazoned across the faces of the protesters, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists, or whatever name may be eventually be applied to them, on account of their behavior and their skin color.
In remarks from Wilmington, Delaware, the next day, President-elect, Joe Biden, said, “They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists! Domestic terrorists! It’s that basic. It’s that simple.”
Smiling, sitting in the pillaged office of the Speaker of the House, with feet up on the desk; standing, shirtless, wearing a Viking hat, positioned for taking selfies at the very podium where, moments before, stood the Vice President; and taking selfies with Capitol police officers in videos, on social media, were some of the despicable acts committed.
Former President, Barack Obama, would later call it “a day of great dishonor and shame on our nation”.
However, thanks to undaunted journalism, we were able to see scenes of the other side of the mob’s action — the terror-stricken faces of congressional staffers and federal workers, crouched in any available corner, seeking refuge, as the angry mob continued its rampage through the Capitol Building.
Inside the House Chamber, stood suited-police agents, guns pointed at the barricaded door, as the crowd attempted to beat the door down.
As I watched live images of the mayhem unfold, my mind was suddenly jolted into reality. I could not resist focusing on the treatment afforded the mostly-White group of protesters, as they endeavored to attack, not merely a building, but the very seat of American democracy. Disregard could not be paid to how close they were allowed to get to the Capitol Building, in the absence of any significant opposition. There was no tear gas; no police containment; no one was tased or beaten with batons.
Just for a brief moment, conjure up the likely outcome if Black thugs or rioters had conducted themselves in the same manner. It would have befittingly resulted in a massacre, with the National Guard, along with other federal and local agencies, being summoned under the guise of a state of emergency, or a national emergency.
My mind however, became centered on Josh. Not Josh Hawley, the Missouri senator, who reportedly stood outside the Capitol, and cheered the rioters on, and who many believe is guilty of sedition, and owes the nation a full accounting of his role in the shocking challenge to democracy.
I was thinking about Joshua Williams, who is currently incarcerated for eight years in a Missouri prison.
In December 2014, at a protest, following the killing of Antonio Martin by Berkeley Police, surveillance captured images of Williams trying to set a pile of wood on fire, outside a convenience store.
He was charged with arson in the first degree, and also charged with felony burglary and misdemeanor stealing, for allegedly taking a lighter, gum and money from the store, and also trying to set a trash can on fire.
St. Louis County prosecutor, Bob McCulloch, and Circuit Court Judge, John D. Warner Jr., decided to make an example of the first-time offender. McCulloch asked for the maximum 15 years. The judge gave him eight.
The Associated Press stated that the Capitol Police knew about the potential threat of the riot, prior to its occurrence, but turned down offers of assistance from the National Guard and the FBI, claiming that they did not want to use federal force against Americans, as was done last summer.
Note the thinking; there would be more violence from BLM protesters, than from pro-Trump extremists and conspiracy theorists. Double standard on display.
More force was displayed during the protesting of unarmed Black individuals against police killings, than was displayed defending the U.S Capitol against an armed insurrection. The restraint showed by the police was a huge failure, to say the least, for in no way, shape or form, should the insurrectionists have taken over the building.
It also shows the level of restraint that the police are capable of displaying, even to a fault.
Let’s close the talk about police needing de-escalation or restraint training. They have clearly demonstrated that they are capable of restraining themselves against certain people — those guaranteed the best protection, because of having the right skin complexion.
Blacks this you should know; no change in the status-quo.
Yvonne Sam, a retired Head Nurse and Secondary School Teacher, is the Chair of the Rights and Freedom Committee at the Black Community Resource Centre. A regular columnist for over two decades with the Montreal Community Contact, her insightful and incursive articles on topics ranging from politics, human rights and immigration, to education and parenting have also appeared in the Huffington Post, Montreal Gazette, XPressbogg and Guyanese OnLine. She is also the recipient of the Governor General of Canada Caring Canadian Citizen Award.