Many of us could predict that the average Trump supporter would defend the riot at the US Capitol and the halls of Congress by changing the conversation into a discussion about the BLM protests. And I’m sure in their minds, that is an excellent excuse for the Capitol riot. To them it’s saying “You supported these BLM protests that turned violent, so now if you say anything about the Capitol protests you are a hypocrite.” The truth is that the BLM protests and the Capitol riots do not relate in a way that allows for fair comparison. But, if Trump supporters really want to compare the two, then fine. Let’s do that and see how it turns out for them.
First of all, I’ll start with a saying that every American has heard at one time or another: two wrongs don’t make a right. No matter what side of the argument you find yourself on, it’s important to remember that one violent act doesn’t cancel out the others. That’s not how justice works, that’s how revenge works. And in countries where revenge is allowed to rule the morality of citizen’s actions, we rarely see anything but a fall into chaos. If we allow ourselves to fall into a pattern of believing our violence was justified just because somebody else wasn’t, we will march ourselves even closer to that chaos. So it is important to separate the actions of different groups when justifying or condemning their actions.
That said, it is also important to be able to logically analyze the actions of both groups and critique them. One of the biggest complaints from Republicans about BLM protests was robbing and vandalization. While it is true that there were violent acts like these committed during BLM protests, I’m going to remind you of two details. First, the acts of violence that occured at the BLM protests were microscopic compared to what Trump’s extremists did to our country. Robbing a Best Buy or a Target is hardly the same as breaking and entering the Capitol building ready to take hostages, threaten to murder elected officials, shoot your weapons, and commit more atrocities we learn about every day. But say that the violence from BLM protests was as bad as a mob of Trump extremists beating 50 police officers and killing one with a fire hydrant, what defense would we have in that case?
Reports from CBS News, The Nation, ABC News, The Inquirer and many other news sources claim, inconclusively at times, that most of the violence at BLM protests was sparked by white supremacists and other outsiders who were benefiting off the conflict. Not only was the violence committed at BLM protests far less extensive than the violence on Capitol Hill, it was also started and supported by opportunistic extremists, not people who really wanted to support BLM’s cause.
Let’s also look back at the evidence that white supremacists encouraged police to be more violent at BLM protests. I’m sure you remember how often clashes with police happened at BLM protests and how, in many cases, it seemed this violence was sparked by the police and unprovoked. The gathering of peaceful protestors honoring Elijah McClain that was broken up by tear gas and armed police in Colorado comes to mind. Or the multiple incidents of police cars driving through crowds of protestors. Or when a 75-year-old was rendered unable to walk after being shoved to the ground by a police officer and suffering from a fractured skull. These are not the only examples of police instigating violence at BLM protests, but they are a stark contrast to the way police treated Trump’s extremists. Some police officers took selfies with rioters, helped the mob members down the Capitol steps, and otherwise supported Trump’s extremists.
It is a police officer’s job to defuse any possibly violent situation. Maybe arresting as few people as possible during the protests was the right thing to do. Maybe getting everyone out with as little violence and as much mercy as possible was part of the police’s job description. But until all protestors are treated equally in respect to the situation they are creating, whether that is robbing a Target or storming the Capitol building, BLM protests and the Capitol Hill riots cannot honestly be compared.
About the Author:
After being subjected to homophobic harassment in the classroom, Isabella decided to try and use her writing to encourage others to stand up for each other and themselves. Isabella is a high school student in Lafayette, IN.