Community leaders say police response to mobs at U.S. Capitol shows double-standard

MADISON, Wis. — Twenty-four hours after riots and violence erupted at the nation’s Capitol, many are sparking conversations about the differences in how police responded to Wednesday’s events compared to the Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

Masood Akhtar with the We Are Many – United Against Hate Movement organization, said even the way the crowds were labeled didn’t sit right with him.

“These guys were armed and bombs were found near the Capitol this morning,” Akhtar said. “What these guys did is not what protestors do. If it was carried out by a Muslim, you are going to hear words like terrorism.”

Akhtar is one of many who feel that if this crowd were filled with people of color or those supporting the Black Lives Matter movement, the outcome would have looked different.

“This is one of the issues we have in this country,” Akhtar said. “When a similar act is done by a white person or white groups, we treat them very differently than if it was done by a non-white group of people.”

As pro-Trump supporters marched through the halls of one of the most protected buildings in the nation, communities of color saw it as an example of white privilege.

“The leader of our country went on TV and called these folks patriots and loving people,” said CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County Michael Johnson. “When you have young activists across this country marching to denounce police brutality, they were called thugs and criminals.”

Johnson said he saw a slow response from police to what happened at the Capitol.

Trump supporters were captured on film entering a secured area with little resistance from police and some appeared to be taking selfies with security.

Johnson compared that to the thousands of officials who responded to BLM protestors over the summer who were met with resistance and force.

“Yesterday, 52 people were arrested,” Johnson said. “At the height of the Black Lives Matter protest in a single night, 488 people were arrested.”

Akhtar and Johnson said what happened at the Capitol was one of the darkest days we’ve experienced as a nation and hope everyone can do better going forward.

“What happened was America first became America lost. America lost its credibility,” Akhtar said. “We need to work very hard over the next four years and beyond to restore what America stands for: liberty, equity and equality for all.”