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The New Arab Staff & Agencies

Capitol Hill: Two photos that sum up America's racism problem

Trump supporters storming Capitol Hill Jan 7 2021 (L), BLM protest June 3 2020 (R)

Date of publication: 7 January, 2021

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As the United States confronts pro-Trump rioters, people have shared images of Black Lives Matter protesters to demonstrate the differences.
Activists and civil rights leaders in the US have slammed law enforcement agencies for their slow response in dealing with violent Donald Trump supporters who stormed Capitol Hill.

They also pointed out the contrast between the light security deployed on Wednesday night and the mass ranks of police and the National Guard during Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last year, following the killings of several unarmed black women and men last year by police.

Taking to Twitter, people shared images of the National Guard deployed in front of Lincoln Memorial in June during peaceful BLM protests and compared them to images of chaos in the Capitol Building on Wednesday.

The latter event saw pro-Trump supporters storming the structure, sitting on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's seat, and led to at least one death.

"White privilege exists," one person tweeted in reference to the photos.

Ash Kelly, a US reporter revealed that lawmakers intend to investigate Capitol Hill police.

"Four people died and at least 52 have been arrested following a violent mob attack on the U.S. Capitol. Dr Jun France says if the crowd were a BLM there would have been blood. US lawmakers are vowing to investigate Capitol Hill police."

Derrick Johnson, president of the national National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), also deplored the lack of security at the government building.

"When Black folks are protesting and progressives are protesting peacefully they were tear-gassed, they were arrested, they were shot with rubber bullets. They were shot with real bullets," Johnson said.

"We watched it take place all summer long when people were peacefully demonstrating."

"The Capitol police were unprepared, ineffective and some were complicit. All of them should be held to account," said Rep Marcia Fudge, a Democrat from Ohio and former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Pro-Trump rioters (L), National Guard guarding Capitol Hill during BLM protests in 2020 [Getty]

She, like many politicians, had been put into lockdown.

Fudge went on to say there was "no question" the response to Capitol Hill violence was different from last year's BLM protest at the Capitol. She, like many others online, shared a photograph of a row of police officers guarding the steps of the capital.

"There is a double standard," she added.

Why no 'terrorists' label?

Others questioned what would have happened if those who stormed Capitol Hill had been Arab or Muslim, and criticised the terminology used in calling the pro-Trump supporters "protesters" rather than "terrorists". 

Read more: What's at stake for the Middle East's autocrats as a Biden victory looms?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines domestic terrorism as "violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature".

Pro-Trump protesters had broken into a government building and destroyed public property to protest the state of Georgia's voter count.

"Asking hypothetically," a Twitter user queried. "If Muslims stormed and wrecked the capitol building based on lies of election fraud, you would call them terrorists right? So why aren't the Trump supporters who stormed Capitol Hill yesterday classified the same in your mind?"

Pakistani-American author Sabaa Tahir’s comment was short and sweet. "Lol if Muslims did this," she tweeted, along with three skull emojis, and journalist Nabeela Zahir expressed similar sentiments.

"I know many people are saying this, but for real if those were Muslim Americans at Capitol Hill... how many would have been shot dead? What would the headlines be today?"

Donald Trump has 13 days left in office, before Democrat Joe Biden takes the mantle to become the next president of the United States.

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