For Immediate Release

January 8, 2021

Disparity in Police Response to Capitol Violence is Unacceptable

Below is a statement of Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation:

“The disparity in the weak and hardly visible police response to the domestic terrorists or insurrectionists who invaded our nation’s Capitol building and defiled it this week versus the massive police and military presence that turned aggressive and violent during Black Lives Matter protests this past summer in DC is stunning, unfair, and unacceptable. The Feminist Majority Foundation is calling for a full investigation into law enforcement’s failure to respond appropriately to this insurrection and assault on our democracy. We demand that the perpetrators of Wednesday’s violent acts be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. 

President Trump is directly responsible for the Capitol invasion.  His speech before the siege incited it with his constant lies about a “stolen” election and his extorting of the massive crowd to fight, to be strong, and to take back America. His years of lies and rhetoric inciting white supremacist violence are also unacceptable.  

What we all witnessed this week during both the rally before and the subsequent assault on the US Capitol this week demands impeachment of President Trump for violation of his pledge to uphold the Constitution. Lawmakers who were complicit in this seditious activity must also be held accountable. 

As a veteran demonstrator for women’s rights, civil rights, and LGBTQ rights, I have never seen such a small police response to an announced demonstration, let alone announced warnings of possible armed conflict. Peaceful demonstrators in DC have routinely been met with barricades, strict security measures, a horde of heavily armed police, sometimes on horseback, and even mass arrests during nonviolent civil disobedience actions for civil rights.  Dozens of women were arrested for peacefully protesting the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 just blocks away from the Capitol. However, the vast majority of this violent mob this week was allowed to walk away freely, with only about eight being arrested at the Capitol during the breach, while hundreds of peaceful protestors were arrested during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. 

Law enforcement should have been well aware of the threat that this so-called pro-Trump event posed, with the possibility of armed insurrection being discussed online in right-wing forums in the weeks prior.  We saw a precursor to this insurrection in Michigan when armed Trump supporters occupied the state capital building to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s lockdown orders. We have witnessed misogynistic attacks on both Gov. Whitmer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi by these so-called pro-Trump extremists. Some members of the police who were present on Wednesday appeared to be allied with the white supremacists, taking selfies and even opening barricades to let the mob in to breach the Capitol. The disgusting inequity in police response to these treasonous extremists exposes the ways white supremacy works at the highest ranks of law enforcement.

The Feminist Majority Foundation is shocked and dismayed at the inadequate police response to the mob that defiled the Capitol, one of our most sacred symbols of democracy. The double-standard of how peaceful protestors who marched for racial justice and equality this summer were met with police brutality, tear gas, and rubber bullets is unacceptable. Thus far, there has been an inexcusable lack of consequences for the violent extremists who breached the Capitol this week. We stand with Black organizers, activists, organizations, and community members who are fighting America’s historic legacy of white supremacy and trying to build a better world where the most marginalized among us are equal.” 

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