Michigan leaders condemn ‘double standard’ of treatment of mostly white rioters at US Capitol

Officials white privilege led to lax Capitol police presence on Jan. 6

Local leaders call out 'double standard' of treatment of mostly White rioters at US Capitol

Elected officials in Michigan are speaking out about the deadly riot in Washington on Wednesday, calling attention to the double standard of how the mostly white pro-Trump rioters were treated compared to how law enforcement treated Black Lives Matter protesters throughout 2020.

“What we saw yesterday, if that had been a whole riot of Black people having an insurgence on the Capitol -- oh my goodness, Black bodies would have been lying everywhere,” said Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence.

Congresswoman Lawrence says, though it may be difficult for people to hear or even realize, the truth is that Capitol police would have responded differently Wednesday if the rioters Black instead of white.

More: Race double standard clear in rioters’ Capitol insurrection

Lawrence was among the many lawmakers inside the U.S. Capitol when the pro-Trump extremists stormed the building on Wednesday.

“It was a riot. There were people destroying property, being violent, breaking windows, moving government property,” Lawrence said.

Officials and Americans alike are calling attention to the contrast between law enforcement’s handling of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests throughout 2020 and their response to the violent insurrection at the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6.

A photo has gone viral on social media of officers standing on those same Capitol steps during the BLM protests in Washington last summer vs. rioters crowding those steps Wednesday. Many are wondering why police had such a heavy presence amid largely peaceful BLM protests, but were hardly present amid such a violent riot Jan. 6.

According to Congresswoman Lawrence, the answer is simply: “Because they’re white and because they were Donald Trump supporters.”

President of Detroit’s branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Reverend Wendell Anthony agrees with Lawrence.

“What you saw yesterday was the privilege of white privilege,” Anthony said. “There is a privilege some folks have in this country that when they violate the law, when they broke the codes and rules, people are tolerant; (they’re given) a pass. They get excuses. They say ‘Oh, well they are just protesting, they’re going to be alright in a minute -- that’s bull crap.”

Detroit Police Chief James Craig shared similar sentiments, arguing that what happened at the Capitol wouldn’t have happened here in Detroit. He also agrees there are major differences in the treatment of white and Black demonstrators by law enforcement.

“If it was a Black Lives Matter (protest), African Americans converging on the Capitol, would there have been a different response? Possibly so,” Craig said.

BLM protesters in Detroit did clash with law enforcement on several occasions, though most of the protests were notably peaceful.

Congresswoman Lawrence says hearings will take place regarding what happened in Washington on Jan. 6 and the lack of security at the Capitol. She says those responsible will be held accountable.

Related: Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to quell mob

About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.