The events in Washington DC this week reveals so much about how power works in the US, and more markedly, for whom. The storming of Capitol Hill, where elected officials in the Senate and the House of Representatives sit when debating and voting on laws, is not the first time we have seen the double-standard of white protesters being given the benefit of the doubt by law enforcement, authorities, and news outlets. Just a few months ago, Black Lives Matter protesters were met with National Guard troops around the Lincoln Memorial. During Wednesday’s events? Rioters had already made it inside the building before the National Guard was even called up.
Last June, protesters in DC repeatedly faced tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive force by police. Many were detained and charged. One protest led to over 80 arrests. By comparison, police made 26 arrests on US Capitol grounds this week and the rioters managed to roam the buildings for hours, taking pictures in offices, putting their feet up on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk and even stealing her lectern. Some destroyed the memorial to Civil Rights movement activist John Lewis. Most arrests were made related to flouting curfew. Cops posed for selfies with the rioters.
Cops are taking selfies with the terrorists. pic.twitter.com/EjkQ83h1p2
— Timothy Burke (@bubbaprog) January 6, 2021
White privilege and entitlement have been on full display these past two days, and it’s not only visible, but they were also in your face. The white terrorists seized the building after hearing Donald Trump encourage them to reject the presidential election’s outcome and they pushed through cops to storm congressional debates as politicians scurried out. They were draped in US, Confederate, and Trump flags and the ‘Proud Boys’ – members of a pro-Trump hate group – wore “6MWE” t-shirts – standing for “Six million [Jewish people] wasn’t enough”.
Just a few weeks ago, these very same hooligans burned Black Lives Matter banners stolen from historically Black churches and engaged in brawls that left several people stabbed. Thing is, Trump supporters want reasons to march and chant, so they create imaginary enemies and feign vulnerability despite their absolute power in socio-political and economic spheres. What this siege really is, is a tantrum. Yes, white wing folk are throwing tantrums because they didn’t get what they wanted. Rather, they’re throwing their toys out the cot because other people (people they don’t like) got what they wanted because – let’s face it – it’s not like the Biden presidency is going to hold them accountable anyway.
But let’s not act like this wasn’t coming. It escalated over more than just the past four years of Trump’s presidency. Before the storming of the Reichstag … sorry … Capitol, there were clear signs online that this was about to happen. While protests against police violence and racism have left the White House arguing that left-wing violence is a major threat and that anti-fascist, or “Antifa”, activists should be designated as a domestic terror group, white supremacy has, as always, gone unchecked. This is despite the fact that right-wing terrorists were responsible for 41 US politically motivated attacks and plots in 2020, while “far-left” activists were responsible for 12, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The FBI, along with many left-wing organisations, has warned about the rising right threat for years, but the White House, as is the case with many other governments, has brushed it off. As a result, right-wing terror has not been prioritised as a threat. Instead, the US has listed “eco-terrorism” as the top risk, ignoring white-supremacist violence for the past few decades despite the evidence.
Bombs were found. Do you know the amount of planning it takes to make a pipe bomb and plant it? A lot, that’s how much. Some of these people specifically went out there to plant bombs. If that’s not terrorism, what is, then?
Fuelled by Trump’s rhetoric, what we are seeing at Capitol Hill is the demonstration of the very real-world impact of echo chambers. The cancer of white nationalism has metastasised across social media and the dark corners of the Internet, giving birth to a completely deluded set of people who truly believe they’re being oppressed should a black, gay, or Jewish person get what they feel they deserve more. They don’t understand the difference between white rebellion against imagined oppression and Black resistance to actual oppression – these are the same people who said “All Lives Matter” and the even more idiotic “Blue Lives Matter” back in June 2020. Possibly the best illustration of this self-inflicted persecution came when one man died after he apparently struck himself with a taser at the riot.
Can we start of trend of naming things that are better guarded than the US capitol?
The black hair care products at Walmart? #CapitolRiots #DCProtests #DCRIOTS #CapitolBuilding #capitollockdown #CapitolHill #capitolbreached #USCapitol #America pic.twitter.com/3svCoNk3PF
— Sky the Mothafuckin Frenchfry? (@Leighpete11) January 7, 2021
The mob this week had one objective: to interfere in the election at the behest of their arrogant and selfish leader, who had promised to march alongside them before quietly scuttling back to the White House instead like a rat. Their aim was to create chaos. But unarmed Black people, just going about their regular lives are routinely subject to violence. A young kid with a bag of Skittles is more of a threat to US freedom than a gun-toting man with a hatred of anyone different to him.
Black people faced organised police violence in cities across the US. Hell, a white police officer kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes. However, people carrying weapons on federal buildings in full view are being allowed to run free. It would have been a completely different situation if they were Black. The violence that would have been unleashed on Black people in this position would have been something unimaginable. We’d probably have January 6 taught as a blight on US history during Black History Month.
What is the world doing right now? They’re laughing. People are treating this as a joke.
Gonna tell my kids this was Jamiroquai. pic.twitter.com/bwcYA7k5l9
— Albornoz (@albornoz_mx) January 6, 2021
Where there is radical Black resistance, there is state repression. Where there are white tantrums, there is state collusion. Many joked that the reason the cops weren’t there was the same reason you don’t see Miley Cyrus and Hannah Montana on stage at the same time. US cops and white rioters meeting is like a family reunion.
The story is the same the world over. Power structures always act in favour of whiteness, no matter how toxic it is. Until we take this threat seriously and actively fight it in the places that matter, we will never be rid of it. Moreover, white people need to fix this. Us POC cannot do it with our limited power. Brown folk are always met with gunfire and teargas when we try change anything. We are called terrorists. We are arrested. Our careers and lives are derailed. We are killed.
Meanwhile, the whiteness that has ravaged human society for centuries does not suffer consequence. A few arrests here and there. A slap on the wrist. We can say Trump normalised racism and emboldened racism. But it was all there and he was just the catalyst for them coming out of their Hitler-esque bunkers. Society has allowed them to lie in wait for their supreme leader to come forth and fan the flames of their tiki torches so they can dust off their white robes and wear them with pride. They have never suffered consequence and until they do, we’re fucked.