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'Double standard': Civil rights leaders compare police response between BLM, Capitol protests

The imagery of the slave-built U.S. Capitol being desecrated was frustrating to see for many people.
Credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo
Supporters loyal to President Donald Trump clash with authorities before successfully breaching the Capitol building during a riot on the grounds, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

WASHINGTON — Images of mob violence at the nation's Capitol have been tough for many to watch.

Now, there is strong criticism of the way law enforcement handled the attack, especially from civil rights leaders and activists who pointed out double standards along racial lines.

"What I saw was double standard. I saw law enforcement take a completely different approach with this particular protest than they've done with Black Lives Matter protests,” said Carl Soto, vice president of Black Lives Matter Restoration Polk.

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Data shows the response was indeed different. According to CBS News, last summer, 5,000 guardsmen and 1,600 troops descended on DC ahead of protests. President Donald Trump in a tweet called for the arrest of anyone who destroyed federal property. 

However, on Wednesday, just 1,100 National Guard Troops and several hundred federal law enforcement officers showed up after the insurrection was well underway.

"Some of the security guards were posing for pictures with them,” said Yvette Lewis, president of the Hillsborough NAACP. "Had it been us, they would have locked us up.”

The imagery of the slave-built U.S. Capitol being desecrated was also frustrating for Manatee County NAACP president Tarnisha Cliatt. 

"This is a place where our ancestors built. And to have them ambush, and have them disrespect the nation's Capitol...we're being made a mockery of,” she said.

Terry Gainer, former Capitol Police Chief, told CBS News it is clear that law enforcement was not prepared for the breach. 

“The calvary should have been coming to get those people the hell off the steps and the platforms, but that would have been very, very ugly and difficult to do if you didn't have superior force,” he said.

Gainer said force was missing from Wednesday’s mob violence but as the nation tries to move forward with a peaceful transfer of power, leaders say healing is the force the country now needs.

"We're a divided nation,” Cliatt said. “We all have to understand that we live in this nation, and we all have value and we all can add value, and it's time for us all to be seen as equals, and do this together.”

Police say just 26 people were arrested on Capitol grounds.

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