Insufficient response to attack on Capitol perpetuates white supremacist values

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Midway staff

The law enforcement response to the attack on the Capitol demonstrates a need to acknowledge and scrutinize the white supremacist roots of our country, writes Midway content manager Téa Tamburo.

Téa Tamburo, Content Manager

Last June, the Illinois national guard was stationed outside my apartment complex, in anticipation of violence following Black Lives Matter protests. Having a Humvee and a group of armed National Guard troops directly outside the gates to my home was incredibly unsettling. After a week of peaceful protests, they left. However when the U.S. Capitol was attacked by white, pro-Trump extremists Jan. 6, it took over two hours for the National Guard to arrive, and the law enforcement that was present showed little reprehension. 

The difference in response shows the role white supremacy plays in the nation’s law enforcement. To move forward and hold the new Biden-Harris administration accountable, we need to acknowledge and scrutinize the white supremacist roots of the country. 

People across the nation watched in horror as a group of extremists, most of whom were white, staged an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, breaking windows, carrying weapons, clashing with Capitol police and parading a Confederate battle flag — a symbol of racism and slavery — through the halls. 

In addition to weapons, racist and anti-Semitic symbols were on full display during the Capitol invasion. Groups shamelessly flaunted the green and white flag of Kekistan, a fictional country, which is partly derived from the Nazi flag. Flags were a common symbol of oppression used by the rioters. Another man paraded a large Confederate flag throughout the Capitol’s halls, something that wasn’t even possible during the Civil War. It was the first time this sign of slavery and oppression was carried into the Capitol as an act of revolt. These symbols entered the Capitol because Americans brought and were allowed to keep them there, a clear demonstration of the nation’s white supremacist values.

As I watched the scene unfold at the Capitol, I couldn’t stop contrasting it to what Black Lives Matter supporters endured this summer while peacefully protesting against police brutality. They were sprayed with tear gas and physically beaten, beaten with batons and silenced by police for peacefully protesting the killings of innocent people of color. But the scene at the Capitol was a strikingly different double standard: while police officers and security showed extreme laxity for pro-Trump extremists violently storming the Capitol in attempt to stop the presidential election certification, they did the exact opposite for people peacefully protesting racism and police violence. New evidence suggests there were warnings indicating a Capitol insurrection, yet the Capitol Police disregarded these signs and was woefully unprepared during the insurrection. 

The delayed and insufficient response to the insurrection at the Capitol suggests that white supremacy and diabolical acts of violence are acceptable, while peacefully protesting for racial equality isn’t.”

The delayed and insufficient response to the insurrection at the Capitol suggests that white supremacy and diabolical acts of violence are acceptable, while peacefully protesting for racial equality isn’t. Capitol rioters faced few immediate repercussions and were allowed to leave the Capitol without arrest. Only in aftermath are they being charged.This hypocrisy demonstrates the law enforcement’s contradictory actions toward people of color protesting for racial justice and their response to weapon-bearing white supremacists invading the Capitol building. 

As members of Congress addressed this insurrection, they stated this violated democracy and did not represent the nation. By disregarding the long standing systemic racism, they were simultaneously upholding the myth of American innocence. Because breaking this narrative is crucial to remedying the racism ingrained in our governmental system, cases of police brutality will continue to be invalidated and racial reform will never be able to progress.

Symbols of oppression, the lack of repercussions from law enforcement, and Congressional statements saying this insurrection does not represent the nation all uphold the idea of American innocence and dismisses the racism within our country. Disregarding this only delays the movement for social justice. To achieve true democracy, we must not only recognize the racism and hypocrisy of the law enforcement but also hold the new administration accountable.