Two things led to the “siege” of the Capitol building last week.
- A group of thugs broke off from an otherwise peaceful protest of hundreds of thousands Trump supporters and forced their way into the Capitol building.
- All that stood between the Jan. 6 protesters and the Capitol building were two dozen police officers positioned behind a small portable fence. They weren’t even wearing riot gear.
Two factors led to the “siege” but only one – the demonstration – has received any real attention.
If authorities had provided the same level of security seen at Black Lives Matter demonstrations last summer, the siege could not have occurred. By failing to provide adequate security, police effectively handed the thugs a key to the building.
President-Elect Joe Biden labelled the difference in security between the June 3 and Jan. 6 protests a symptom of race discrimination and the perception of a greater threat by black protesters. However, the police protected not only the Capitol building but also BLM, which would have suffered a public relations disaster had protesters had broken into the Capitol. It’s message, just like Trump’s concerns about voter fraud, would have been lost.
Without the police, BLM’s message about race discrimination – like Trump’s message about election fraud – might have been lost.
USA Today on Wednesday quoted a professor who said that public safety authorities minimized the threat. But there is no evidence of this. It is at least plausible that authorities understood the threat but chose not to respond appropriately to end, once and for all, the dispute about election fraud.
As the Democrats race to impeach GOP President Donald Trump, it is fair to ask why the Capitol building was almost completely unprotected when it was the focus of a demonstration that drew tens of thousands of protesters from around the country.
A Clear Threat
It was well known that hundreds of thousands of protesters were converging in Washington to protest Congressional certification of electors.
And it is undisputed that there was a clear threat of violence.
Immediately prior to the protest, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department arrested the leader of the Proud Boys when he arrived in the city for the demonstration.
D.C.’s Mayor Muriel Bower, a Democrat, told local residents to stay away from downtown and avoid confrontations with anyone who is “looking for a fight.” She said the city would “not allow people to incite violence, intimidate our residents or cause destruction in our city.”
The AP reported on Jan. 4, two days prior to the march, that an anonymous U.S. defense official disclosed Bowser had put in a request on New Year’s Eve to have National Guard members on the streets from Tuesday to Thursday to help with the protests. The defense official said the additional forces were to be used for traffic control and other assistance but would not be armed or wearing body armor. The AP reports 340 D.C. National Guard members were activated, with about 115 on duty at any given time to man traffic control points and city metro stops.
Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund, who resigned a day after the riot, told The Washington Post that the House and Senate sergeants at arms, suggested he informally ask Guard officials to be on alert. The Pentagon denied there was a request for them to have Guardsmen at the ready as part of a riot contingency plan.
There are serious questions about the lack of police presence at the Trump demonstration that should not be dismissed by hypothetical musings that authorities diminished the threat.