The Police’s Tepid Response To The Capitol Breach Wasn’t An Aberration

When images of the riots by pro-Trump extremists in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday filled our TV screens and social media feeds, one thing in particular was missing: the type of confrontation between police and protesters we saw during the Black Lives Matter protests saw last summer. Although the Capitol mob was far more violent and inflammatory than the largely peaceful BLM protesters, the police reacted far less aggressively to them than to BLM protesters across the country. Researchers who pursue such things for a living say they fit a pattern.

Instead of National Guard troops Posted en masse around sights Even before a protest began, we saw The Ministry of Defense initially rejects an application to send troops – and this was after The Capitol had been breached. Instead of peaceful demonstrators are doused with tear gas, we saw A mob that pretends to be selfies with the police and is allowed to wander through the corridors of power as if they couldn’t decide whether to enter the Capitol or to see it. Instead of President Trump Call these violent followers “thugs”“When he called racial justice protesters and advocated more violent police practices, we saw he reminds his followers that they were loved before you kindly ask her to go home.

“It feels really amazing,” said Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation for the nonprofit Project for armed conflict location and event data. But it wasn’t surprising either, she said.

This is because the disagreements we saw on Wednesday are just another example of a trend Kishi’s team has been following for months, when collecting data on interactions between protesters and law enforcement across America. “We see a different reaction to the right wing,” She said.

While the protesters themselves have long recognized that the police have a tendency to crack down on left-wing protesters and coordinate with those on the right, there is no data to support this effect, said Ed Maguire, professor of criminology and criminal justice from Arizona State University and an expert in police-protester interactions.

In 2020, Kishi’s ACLED – a data reporting project that documented armed conflict and protests in African countries – expanded its work to the United States. Use information ACLED researchers, brought together by local media, NGOs, individual journalists and partner organizations, have been cataloging detailed information about protests for months, including clashes with law enforcement agencies and the types of violence used by the police. “We don’t necessarily have information about the number of black and white protesters … but we have a bigger view,” said Kishi. “How are law enforcement reacting to demonstrations related to the Black Lives Matter movement versus right-wing demonstrations … in support of [a] President that may or may not involve organized armed illegal groups? “

What they found is striking.

Between May 1 and November 28, 2020, the authorities tried more than twice as often to disperse and disperse a left-wing protest than a right-wing one. And in those situations where law enforcement intervened, they were more likely to use violence – 34 percent of the time right-wing protests versus 51 percent of the time left. Most importantly, given the fact that this data was collected, it reflects a difference in police response to Black Lives Matter compared to response to anti-mask demonstrations, pro-Trump extremists, QAnon rallies, and militia groups.

The differences in intervention were not due to the fact that BLM protests were particularly violent. ACLED found that 93 percent of BLM-related protests were completely peaceful. “Even if we were to set this [7] Percent of the demonstrations aside and look purely peaceful [BLM protests]We’re seeing a more persistent response [compared with right-wing protests]”Said Kishi.

These data are new and limited, but are in line with long-documented prejudices how the police think about it and Treat blacks compared to whites and with research that shows The police and the military overlap significantly with the same right-wing extremist groups they treat preferentially.

It’s also consistent with how different groups of protesters view the situation themselves, Maguire said. He has interviewed protesters extensively in his years of traveling to protest and nestling in crowds to observe and document police-protester interactions. “The protesters on the left basically believe that the police are treating them harsher. And the protesters on the right almost everywhere believe that the police are on their side, ”said Maguire. Some of that feeling was evident yesterday:

Even in the absence of statistical evidence, those beliefs have ramifications, Maguire said. “I think protesters on the right, because they see the police as in their corner, they feel implicitly allowed,” he said. This will only be aggravated when the police meet these expectations. While law enforcement responded to the Capitol storms on Wednesday with far less violence than the protests against Black Lives Matter, it did exist something Powerwhat led to the fact that a woman was shot by the police.

And Maguire says this is a harrowing break between the treatment right-wing extremists expect and the reality. The consequences of this worry him. He has seen this year how these extremists’ beliefs about themselves and their relationship with the police became increasingly religious and apocalyptic. “[They told me] that leftists are godless and hate God and hate America. I’ve heard that from people on the right. [But] They were godly moral people and the police would always support them because of that, ”he said. Now you have a situation where the police give these people more leeway and, At the same time, right-wing groups can perceive that their relationship with the police is being undermined. “I can … see the possibility that people who feel that the police have broken an implicit or imaginary pact are trying to outsmart the police and act destructively,” he said.

The police, he fears, are likely to see and respond to criticism of the lack of violence in DC More force elsewhere – be it against right or left groups. “Any other law enforcement agency facing an angry crowd will be concerned about being overrun, and over-correcting in response to that concern can lead to overly energetic, unconstitutional responses.”

Violence, as they say, creates violence. And differences in the police force can lead to further differences.

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