When a crowd of President Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday, they faced far fewer police presence – and by the end of the day, far fewer rebels were in custody.
The strong discrepancy in the arrests came, although more DC officers were injured during the chaos in the Capitol, which killed five people, including a police officer.
Even with 14 additional people arrested by the U.S. Capitol Police, a separate agency, the number of people arrested in Wednesday’s riots was less than a quarter of those detained by city officials on June 1 alone.
Activists in DC said they were shocked that a deadly attack on the heart of American democracy had resulted in far fewer people in police custody than clashes during protests over law enforcement brutality.
If the Black Lives Matter protesters had tried to enter the Capitol instead of the predominantly white crowd supporting Trump, Green said, “We would have been chained, we would have been taken away, we would have been shot, we would have been dead.”
Fewer arrests, more officer injuries
No law enforcement officers were killed in the District of Columbia while responding to protests and riots during the summer.
Of course, the protests this summer and the Capitol uprising this week were very different events – for example, there were probably many more protesters scattered in a wider area of the city last summer than on Wednesday.
Kristen Metzger, an MPD spokesman, said the department did not make more arrests on Wednesday in part because, unlike the summer protests, the curfew in the city had not been announced before the incident.
“When we announce (curfew) in advance, we have enough resources to get people in the vans and we are ready to make mass arrests,” Metzger told CNN. “Because it was done so late in the day, we were not ready to make mass arrests in this way until the evening was introduced later that afternoon.”
Metzger also noted that the Capitol is under the jurisdiction of the Capitol Police in the United States and that the district police were called for assistance only after demonstrators violated the security of the building.
“At that point, we were just in control of the situation and taking them out of the Capitol building,” she said.
“We are a city that is constantly engaged in mass demonstrations,” Hopkins said. “Any law enforcement agency in this city to say they were caught flat-footed or didn’t know what was coming is just amazing.”
There will likely be additional arrests related to the Capitol intrusion. Michael Sherwin, acting U.S. attorney general, said Thursday that federal officials plan to review social media footage from Bedlam and arrest people they identify. Federal prosecutors have already filed charges against 15 people, Sherwin said.
Capitol protesters face less serious charges
For now, at least, there are noticeable differences in the seriousness of the charges against those arrested by the Capitol and those arrested during the summer protests.
Most of those arrested on Wednesday were detained for curfew violations or illegal entry charges. DC police arrested only one person on charges they specifically listed as a felony: a 39-year-old man accused of rioting and illegally entering the Capitol. His arrest did not necessarily represent all the crimes committed on Wednesday, as DC police did not always include this information in their data. More people are likely to face crime as prosecutors move forward with their cases.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office did not respond to requests for comment on the discrepancies in the arrests and charges. Bowser criticized the federal response to the uprising, noting at a news conference Wednesday that “we saw a different stance used” by federal officials compared to the highly militarized response to the summer protests.
President-elect Joe Biden focused on racial differences in a speech Thursday, saying “no one can tell me that if it was a group of Black Lives who protested yesterday, they would not be treated very, much differently from the crowd.” of bandits who invaded the Capitol. “
Data released by the police department also shows that the people arrested during the Black Lives protests are more local than those arrested this week, most of whom flock to the capital from other parts of the country.
Among those arrested whose country of residence was available, police data show that 94% of those arrested between late May and August were from DC, Maryland or Virginia. Only 25% of those arrested on Wednesday or early Thursday morning are from the same region.
Hopkins, the executive director of the ACLU, said the discrepancy between the treatment of “white leaders coming to our city” and black protesters was an example of a textbook on police differences.
Events show that police reformers need to pay attention “not only to what the police do,” she said, but also “when officers decide to do something and when they decide to do nothing.”