OPINION: The Capitol Riots, an Exemplar of Privilege


Image Source: KTRK

Analise Bruno, Writer

At the end of the day on January 6, 2021, I, like many, knew little about what exactly occurred at the Washington DC’s Capitol building in terms of the events that transpired. The only thing I knew for certain was that there was an apparent lack of preparedness and authority shown on behalf of the Capitol police during an easily predictable raid most Trump supporters had been clueing in on since the November elections. With multiple shots fired, four people dead, and fifty-two arrested, the events that transpired at the Capitol that night did not fall short of the political violence we as a nation have been experiencing for the past four and a half years.

As I’ve gotten older and more educated, I find that I cue into the news far more often than I used to through the TV, radio, and social media platforms. With that being said, after watching actual footage of the riot that occurred, while simultaneously reading different news articles that covered the event, one thing became clear to me: The acts committed at the Capitol were not done by upset protestors, but rather by terrorists shielded by their privilege. I make this assertion based on not only what occurred, but also the coverage as well. I had seen videos of police taking selfies with the rioters, holding their hands, ushering them inside, essentially encouraging their tirade. I saw these rioters deliberately be allowed to storm a federal office with weapons, antisemitic/racist flags, steal various objects, and trash officials’ offices while many members of the Senate feared for their lives. What struck me was how different news outlets and authority figures were handling the situation considering they took far more violent action at the Black Lives Matter protests that occurred this summer.

It was just a few mere months ago that we all watched systems of law enforcement abuse their authority in the same state, Washington DC, on peaceful demonstrators partaking in Black Lives Matter protests following the unjust murder of George Floyd. Despite the majority of these protests being peaceful, with only true rioters inciting violence, I watched as the National Guard lined the Lincoln Memorial, I watched as law enforcement used pepper spray, mace, tear gas, tasers, and rubber bullets on protestors, I watched as police loaded buses full of demonstrators placed under arrest, I watched as our own President referred to the protestors as “thugs” in a series of tweets, and I most importantly watched a system meant to protect the American people abuse its power. I saw similar things from the protests days before Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation into the supreme court hearing after being accused by Congresswoman, Christine Blasey Ford, of sexual assault/harassment. Many of the female protesters, including a copious amount of sexual assault survivors, were forcefully detained for simply protesting. With that being said, I had expected to see the same abuse of force used on Trump supporters breaking into a federal building, but to my surprise, suddenly systems of authority treated these rioters as lost children allowing them to remain in the building raging violence for hours only for the same President to send out a video message saying “We love you. You are very special. Please go home.”

This sudden change in tune took me back for a multitude of reasons. I wondered where the same system of law enforcement I watched abuse its power months back had gone? I wondered why news outlets were referring to these people committing clear acts of terrorism as “protestors”? I simply could not wrap my head around how President Trump openly anticipated this act of violence and then proceeded to hold back the deploying of the national guard and talked fondly of the terrorists who started the coup. Comparing the events from the protests that had occurred not too long ago to the raid that occurred just last week, it is clear that privilege played a predominant role in the treatment of these rioters. Hundreds of people fighting for the lives of Black citizens were promptly met with violence by a system that is supposed to ensure everyone in America is treated equally. However, the script suddenly flipped when predominantly white demonstrators decorated in MAGA gear and antisemitic and racist symbols were allowed to storm into the Capitol building, scale its walls, raid offices, and threaten figures inside the building with little to no violent opposition from law enforcement. It appears this contrast has a lot to do with the color of these “protestors” white skin, and the privilege it carries. No national guard was waiting to detain them or attempt to restrain them using mace/rubber bullets, nor did the President bat and eye at the terror they were creating. It wasn’t even until days later that the FBI enlisted the help of Americans to find the identities of the rioters to then later detain them. The events have left many, myself included, pondering over this sentiment: “Why is a single Black child being met more aggressively by police than over a thousand white people walking into the Capitol?”

When the opportunity to right a wrong presents itself, it is up to us to make note of the error and own up to past mistakes, however, this sentiment was clearly not one valued by Trump, his administration, or law enforcement who allowed this act of violence to play out with seldom abusive retaliation. What happened at the Capitol is truly embarrassing, and is standing proof that there is still racial bias and preferences towards the white community in so many systems in America today. Time and time again we have allowed the illusion of the US democracy to be shattered, and rather than brushing this one under the rug, the leaders of this country need to pay full attention to the growing issue until it is fixed.


**This opinion article reflects the voice of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of The Viking Times as a whole.  Like most news outlets, The Viking Times is a non-partisan media platform.**