Friday, May 27, 2022

The racial double standard seen in the U.S. Capitol rampage police

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Activists who participated in Black lives matter The marches in Washington last year were followed with astonishment this week as hundreds of pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol with apparently little resistance from police.

Scenes from Wednesday’s chaos, in which the Capitol building was breached and the Confederate flag carried in its hallways, contrasted sharply with what happened in June, when heavily armed police officers flooded the city and buzzed over military helicopters.

A now famous photograph of armed police lined up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the BLM events has become emblematic of the double standard.

The anger of many African Americans escalated when images showed on Wednesday authorities allowing rioters to leave the Capitol complex without being arrested. He renewed his calls for overhauling the country’s police and criminal justice system, an issue the president-elect Joe biden is committed to making its administration a priority.

Alycia Kamil, a leader of Chicago’s anti-violence group Good Kids Mad City, recalled the brutal policing of protests she took part in this summer in Washington, Chicago and Minneapolis.

“Looking back, you’re angrier with the way we’ve been treated,” she said. “Most of our members have received tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, for. . . do nothing other than walk, take up space, or block intersections. “

But if Ms Kamil is angry, she’s not shocked: she said she expected the police to treat whites with more leniency.

However, criminologists who have studied racial inequalities in the US police, they were surprised to see the disparity demonstrated quite starkly this week.

Arizona State University law professor Valena Beety said: “I was shocked to see white men walking around the Capitol, with portable selfie sticks, photographing themselves with their flags, in a totally nonchalant manner. . Seeing them handled with children’s gloves was incredibly disturbing.

Wednesday’s light police assault on the Capitol drew the conviction of Michelle Obama, the former first lady. “Seeing the divide between responses to yesterday’s riot and peaceful protests this summer and the broader race for racial justice is so painful. It hurts, ”she wrote in a statement.

The contrast in the way events were controlled generated widespread outrage that reached corporate C-suites. In a note to employees, American Airlines chief executive Doug Parker said the company recognizes “the disparity in the way other protesters have been treated.”

Rather than protest ahead of their National Basketball Association contest on Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons took a knee during the game itself – a symbolic escalation of anti-racism protests that have swept through the American sports world. ‘last year.

Mr Biden went out of his way to show he understood the double standard on Thursday. “No one can tell me that if it was a group of Black Lives Matter that protested yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs who stormed the Capitol,” a- he declared.

The challenge for the new president will be to translate outrage into politics while keeping the centrist and progressive wings of his party unified and also working across the aisle with Republicans.

The president-elect said he plans to spend more money on community policing, diverting those convicted of minor drugs to treatment rather than jailing them and decriminalizing marijuana.

Experts say he could also choose to facilitate the filing of federal prosecutions against police officers who commit acts of violence, which is difficult to do now because prosecutors must be malicious.

However, Mr Biden rejected calls to “defund” or radically reorganize the police force. And he has yet to say whether he is ready to try to enact the Breathe Act, a package backed by BLM activists that includes the repeal of his own 1994 Crime Bill.

The 1994 legislation, which Biden has since called a “mistake,” has been accused by experts of fueling an era of mass incarceration that has disproportionately affected the black community.

Patrisse Cullors, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said: “The fact that white supremacist terrorists are able to storm the Capitol – one of the safest and best-guarded buildings in the United States – proves that the police operate according to a double standard when the demonstrators look like them.

She added, “President-elect Biden must pass the Breathe Act.”

Even if the president-elect decides to push for a fundamental overhaul of the US police force, his room for maneuver will likely be limited both by the low majorities held by Democrats in the House of Representatives and Senate and by the fact that many police policy is decided at the local level.

Mr Biden could use his office to urge local Democratic leaders to be tougher on police wrongdoing. But if he does, he risks meeting resistance from police unions, some of whom do not seem to understand why Wednesday’s scenes sparked such outrage.

John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Police Union, rioters said on Thursday: “They pushed back through security and headed for the Senate chamber. Did they destroy anything when they were there? No. ”He apologized on Friday, saying his comments were an“ error in judgment ”.

Jonathan Blanks, Visiting Fellow at the Equal Opportunities Research Foundation, said: “Police unions have extraordinary political power, they are almost untouchable. If President Biden is to shake up the police in America, they will fight it to the end.

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