Former President Barack Obama took to Twitter Friday to address why Civil Rights groups and lawmakers are furious over the vastly different approach law enforcement took to Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol breach compared to last summer’s Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.
Obama posted three articles to his Twitter that looked at different explanations as to why law enforcement and federal authorities were under-prepared for an event that led to the first time the Capitol was raided in over 200 years.
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A study reported by FiveThirtyEight found that between May and November last year, authorities were “more than twice as likely to attempt to break up” a left-leaning protest than a right-leaning protest.
The study, conducted by the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, also found that when law enforcement did chose to act, they were more likely to use force “34 percent of the time with right-wing protests compared with 51 percent with left-wing protests.”
President-elect Joe Biden also expressed his belief that had the crowds of men dressed in face paint and protective riot gear storming the Capitol been BLM supporters, the response by law enforcement would have looked differently.
“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable,” Biden said in a Thursday address. “Totally unacceptable.”
Some on Capitol Hill also agreed with the president-elect. “We would have been shot, had we tried to do all of that,” freshmen Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., said in an interview with MSNBC on Wednesday night.
Bush, who took shelter in her office with her staff — just three days after being sworn into office — as rioters flooded through the Capitol building, got her start as a BLM organizer after first marching in Ferguson following the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown Jr.
Obama also referenced an article in The New Yorker that claimed the Capitol Police just didn’t take the threat of Trump’s supporter’s seriously, adding the protesters were “familiar enough to be dismissed as clowns.”
“The invaders may be full of contempt for a system that they think doesn’t represent them, but on Wednesday they managed to prove that it does,” the article written by Masha Gessen read.
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris voiced her frustration over the scene of pro-Trump supporters climbing the walls of the Capitol, breaking windows and barring doors said, “We have witnessed two systems of justice.”
“One that let extremists storm the U.S. Capitol yesterday, and another that released tear gas on peaceful protestors last summer,” she continued.
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Obama echoed Harris’ frustration by pointing out a CNN article that described strategic differences law enforcement took between Wednesday and last summer. The article included a photo that showed three rows of armed National Guard lining the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
But conservative groups have pushed back on the incoming administration and their claims of a double standard — accusing Biden and Harris of “gas lighting.”
“Four people are dead after what happened yesterday. And you know what? People died last summer, too. Countless businesses destroyed. People’s livelihoods set on fire and stolen. You refused to condemn that violence. Yesterday was horrific, but you’ve lost your right to moralize,” National Review writer Alexandra DeSanctis wrote on Twitter.
“This is complete nonsense,” conservative writer A.G. Hamilton said in reaction to Biden’s remarks. “It’s gaslighting that requires ignoring what we actually witnessed on a nightly basis last summer.”
Though Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had arranged for 340 National Guardsmen to be present in the city on Wednesday, none of them were armed or located at the Capitol at the start of the riots.
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The Pentagon later approved the full deployment of D.C.’s 1,800 National Guardsmen along with more soldiers from nearby Virginia and Maryland, but it took time for them to mobilize and travel to the Capitol.
FBI and ATF officers were immediately called in to assist the Capitol Police are they were overwhelmed by rioters.
One Capitol Police officer was killed during the raid.
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