Images of police complicity with the Capitol mob have rightly drawn worldwide attention, fitting into the perception that police have an affinity for Trump and right-wing politics. According to Democrat congressman Tim Ryan, one white policeman put on a MAGA hat and started giving rioters directions!
However, it was a wholly different experience for the many black officers on the scene. According to the Washington DC Police website, 60% of police officers in DC are black and 31% are white.
Did police let Trump supporters into the Capitol?
This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the storming of the Capitol. While the videos of the mob inside the building obviously drew the most attention, many of the Capitol police were actually fighting Trump supporters hand-to-hand for two hours before the breach occurred.
One black officer told Buzzfeed News he was racially abused continually during the fighting. When he saw the infamous photo of the white officer sharing a selfie with a Trump supporter, he said, “That one hurt me the most…I was on the other side of the Capitol getting my ass kicked.”
The officer describes breaking down in tears at the end of the day, not just because of the beating but because of the blatant double-standards in the treatment of the Trump crowd versus African-American protestors. Not only did the police command underestimate the threat of the far-right crowd, but the DC Police chief and deputy-chief were not even available on the radio that day.
Was the Capitol Mob Armed and Trained?
The idea that the Trump crowd were a gaggle of goofy rednecks is the other misconception black officers are correcting. An officer posted on Facebook that many of the rioters were police officers themselves. One reportedly pulled out his badge and said, “We’re doing this for you.” Others sported Blue Lives Matter flags and badges as they pummeled Capitol police.
“If these people can storm the Capitol building with no regard to punishment, you have to wonder how much they abuse their powers when they put on their uniforms,” the officer wrote on Facebook.
The danger now is that the far-right – not just in America but across the world – have clearly seen what is possible, and will be better positioned to exploit any such breaches in future. “That was a heavily trained group of militia terrorists that attacked us,” said the officer.
“They had radios…they had two-way communicators and earpieces. They had bear spray. They had flash bangs … They were prepared. They strategically put two IEDs, pipe bombs, in two different locations. These guys were military trained.”
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Feature image via Unsplash courtesy of @ElevenPhotographs.