The Uncomfortable Questions Facing Capitol Police over the Security Breach by MAGA Mob

have been met with a similar response from officers?

Even though it is difficult to speculate on hypotheticals, one would have to consider the heavy-handed, often violent tactics employed by the police in Washington, D.C., in past protests as well as in a host of U.S. cities, from Minneapolis to Portland to Louisville to Atlanta and Boston.

There can be little doubt that there were pronounced differences Wednesday in the levels of violence and excess that the police have been all too willing to engage in when protesters are calling out police violence, racism and brutality, especially when those protesting are Black. The evidence of this disparity is overwhelming and is indicative of the institutional and endemic racism that has characterized much of American policing throughout a history that goes back to the 19th century.

Consider the consistent body of research that shows that Black suspects are more than twice as likely to be killed by police than other racial or ethnic groups. Fatal Force, the Washington Post’s database of police deadly force incidents, documents annual figures beginning in 2015. It shows that Black Americans are two and a half times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans.

Is There a Case to Say the Police Did a Good Job?
Some would no doubt argue that the police at the Capitol kept a bad situation from having a worse outcome and that officers exercised prudent restraint in their dealings with the MAGA rioters. Four people died in the attack on the Capitolincluding one woman who was shot dead by police – it was later announced that an officer died of injuries sustained during the siege – and there is no way of knowing if the toll would have been higher had officers showed less restraint.

Yes, there have been dozens of arrests since Wednesday. But to my knowledge, it has never been the strategy of a police department to deliberately let violent attackers go only to arrest them later. For one thing, tracking them down is difficult if not impossible after the event.

To many policing experts this was nothing short of an international embarrassment for American law enforcement and a searing indictment of a police department that appeared to be caught completely unprepared. As Charles Ramsey, a former D.C. police chief, told The New York Times: “How they were not ready for this today, I have no idea. They were overwhelmed, they did not have the resources. You have to be able to protect the Capitol. That is not OK.”

Tom Nolan is Associate Professor of Sociology, Emmanuel College. This article is published courtesy of The Conversation.