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Demosthenes's avatar

Is it wrong to racialize the Capitol riots?

Asked by Demosthenes (14303points) January 16th, 2021

A frequent narrative I’m hearing from the left is “if those rioters had been black, they would’ve been shot”. Biden said it, Kamala said, liberal news sources are saying it…but is it actually true? Let’s remember that someone was shot by police (a white woman), and some of the cops being chased by the rioters were black. Were any BLM protesters/rioters shot by police? I can’t think of any. If a black woman had been shot during a BLM protest, would the outcry have been deafening? During the BLM protests, we saw cops standing by while vandalism and rioting occurred, we saw cops taking a knee in solidarity.

There are things to discuss about the police response to the riots, but I’m not sure a racist narrative is really at play here. Are you?

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19 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

Glad you asked this.

misfit's avatar

BLM protestors were shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed. It happened in my city. Peaceful protestors were hit with rubber bullets.

It is true, if that crowd in D.C. had been BLM protestors they would not have been allowed in like Trump’s cult was.

JLoon's avatar

Anyone who hasn’t buried their head completely in some swamp of “alternative media” spin coverage knows that the Capitol riots were racialized from the start by those organizing and planning the violence :

Frankly it baffles and disgusts me that there are still people trying to salvage some justification for what happened, by treating it all like some “left” vs “right” debate.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

This question wreaks of virulent racism.

hello321's avatar

come on man

filmfann's avatar

When the insurrectionists fly a Confederate flag, they are racializing it themselves.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Well the fact that the mob was virtually lily white is rather difficult to miss don’t you think? I mean does anyone here view Trump worship as a religion popular with any but white folks? I mean would you racialize lynchings?

Demosthenes's avatar

@stanleybmanly It’s easy to see, but I’ve seen a number of BLM protests around here and there were a lot of white people in them too. I acknowledge the possibility that some of the police were sympathetic to the protesters (otherwise why the selfie-taking?) but I don’t know that it was entirely motivated by race.

@Hawaii_Jake If that’s how you see it, that’s unfortunate. I think it’s relevant to bring up the callous “play stupid games, win stupid prizes” attitude that people have had toward the woman who was shot. Because that is the same attitude that right-wingers had toward many of the POC shot by police that inspired BLM in the first place. I brought up the hypothetical of a black protester being shot by police in the midst of a BLM riot because you know that the left would’ve been furious and the right would’ve said “she shouldn’t have been rioting, she brought it on herself, etc.” It shouldn’t matter what the unarmed person believed; either it’s acceptable to shoot an unarmed protester or its not.

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sadiesayit's avatar

I’ve heard that one of the reasons the capitol didn’t start with enough police presence to handle the situation was that the protest wasn’t expected to become violent.

So, with that in mind, try to imagine a similar scenario: same number of people, same level of conspiracy-theory fervor, but now many or most of the people are people of color. Would the assessment be the same? Would the police presence also be very light, because violence isn’t a concern?

If you think so, what gives you that confidence? It can’t be past events, because time and again that hasn’t been the case. People of color are treated as if they are a greater threat than people who are white. (Which has, incidentally, been the whole point of the BLM protests).

Demosthenes's avatar

the protest wasn’t expected to become violent.

If that’s true, that’s absolutely ridiculous and anyone involved in organizing a limited police presence should be fired or resign (which I think many have so far). It apparently seemed obvious to everyone but the police that this was a planned insurrection and would become violent.

I’m not confident at all, that’s why I’m asking. The police presence at many BLM protests has been quite high, higher than the presence was for this, at least. But one thing to consider is that the police response to the BLM protests in DC was condemned and seen as a “bad look”. So it can’t be ruled out that a lighter presence was encouraged because of of the reaction to the heavier presence at protests in 2020. (I’m not convinced of this, just throwing it out there).

Obviously a heavier presence is needed now given what happened on 1/6.

Zaku's avatar

The riot was known about in advance. After all, Trump was egging it on. People in the FBI noticed. Apparently Trump & company got the security and real reinforcements to be as light and as late as possible.

Yeah a white woman was shot, but that wasn’t because of a command decision, it was because she was charging toward the House Chamber at the head of a group of thousands of maniacs.

Take a look at photos of the rioters in the Capitol Building. Try to estimate the percentage of black rioters… or just the number that aren’t quite white… if you can even find any non-white rioters in the Capitol Building.

So… “Is it wrong to racialize the Capitol riots?”
– NO.

sadiesayit's avatar

@Demosthenes: “But one thing to consider is that the police response to the BLM protests in DC was condemned and seen as a ‘bad look’. So it can’t be ruled out that a lighter presence was encouraged because of of the reaction to the heavier presence at protests in 2020.”

From what I heard, this was also mentioned as a factor. However, if a decision is between a “bad look” and a security threat at the capitol, the decision goes to protecting the capitol. To be at a point where you’re considering optics over adequate security, you already have to have decided that violence isn’t a pressing concern.

(Also, the condemnation of police response in the summer was because of how overboard and antagonistic it was, particularly when Trump decided to make it a personal crusade. Lighter-than-overboard is not the same as lighter-than-adequate.)

While the situation as a whole is obviously more complicated than this one point I’ve focused on, I think this one point is instructive. I think most people would agree it was “absolutely ridiculous” to not be better prepared for violence with this particular protest. But I still think it’s almost unquestionable that were the demographics of the group different, the preparation would have been different, too.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Silly question. Of course, race played a huge part in it – the terrorists and their racial makeup, the police and their racial makeup, both in Portland and DC in 2020, and just last week.

not seeing that is willful blindness.

LostInParadise's avatar

What are we to make of the off-duty cops who entered the Capitol and took selfies? Link Can you imagine such a thing happening at a BLM protest? The cops said it was a joke. I would say it shows their support for the rioters and for Trump.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Can I explain wearing MAGA hats (MY ASS GOT ARRESTED) and anti-semantic or anti African -American t-shirts makes it RACIAL ! !

doyendroll's avatar

From an ontological and epistemological perspective there’s overwhelming evidential support here of anti-semantic rhetoric.

It was right wing loons (with a range of charming sub-plot motives) marching against left wing control of what some consider to be democracy.

Pandora's avatar

I believe Pence was behind that door and that is why that lady got shot. The only person to be shot dead. And there is a difference when a crowd is chanting we have to get Pence and calling him a traitor. He is the Vice President. And also let’s not forget that they were attacking the Capital and had voiced over and over malicious intent. So don’t pretend there is a comparison. The BLM movement was about saving lives. Black lives. This was about saving a fascist job because he’s afraid of facing charges once he’s no longer President and if they have to kill some people to make it happen, there were people there willing to do exactly that.
And it is true that if the crowd was mainly black people they would’ve been shot. Hell, they wouldn’t even have gotten that close to the Capital. The National Guard would’ve been there days ahead. And if Obama would’ve done something like that, he would’ve been tried for treason already and on his way to jail. If he would’ve said or done half the things Trump said and done, he would’ve been either impeached or the 25th would’ve to be enacted way before he could’ve run for his second time.

Everybody already knew their intent days before the 6th. The leader of some of these organizations announced they would take the presidency by force. Trump invited them all and said come to stop the steal and said come and have a wild time.

This unlike the BLM protests is about sedition. So don’t compare the two, because there is no comparison.

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