Photo by Alejandro Barba on Unsplash

Never forget that they let them into the Capitol

I can’t even count the number of times I heard one of the CBS News anchors decry today’s assault on the U.S. Capitol building as “unbelievable,” “shocking,” and “unimaginable.” As they and others around the world watched Trump supporters storm into the offices and chambers of the U.S. Congress, the question on everyone’s minds and lips seemed to be, “How could this happen?”

The answer is actually pretty simple: The police let them in.

At first, it wasn’t clear how or why a modest crowd of right-wing protestors-turned-insurrectionists managed to get by a Capitol Police force that knew for days — even weeks — that they were coming. But eventually video emerged showing that not only were the police unprepared and unequipped to stop them, but they quite literally stepped aside and allowed the mob to advance.

The video above shows Capitol Police officers pulling back the temporary barricades in place to prevent people from approaching the building and allowing them to forge ahead unbothered.

Video streaming out of nearly every corner of the complex showed police and security forces seemingly incapable of stopping the waves of Trump supporters as they wreaked havoc on the seat of the U.S. Legislature. Some even took selfies with the attackers, and when the insurrectionists were finally convinced — not forced — to fall back, police were even spotted helping members of the mob as they made their way down the stairs to safety.

It almost feels tired at this point — even though this whole thing only happened like an hour ago — to note the glaring differences between the way law enforcement treated these terrorists and the way they treated Black Lives Matter demonstrators over the summer. It’s beyond obvious that police in general treat white terrorists as human beings while regarding demonstrators of color as an existential and violent threat.

But this was more than that.

They didn’t just treat the people who carried out today’s act of violent sedition with a level of dignity, respect, and professionalism that BLM protestors could only dream of receiving. They didn’t just gently suggest that they stop breaking into the Capitol. They actively let them in and aided the assault.

We’ve spent the last two decades arming law enforcement to the teeth with the surplus weapons and equipment from all the illegal wars we’re waging against countries that never attacked us. We just passed a nearly $1 trillion defense spending bill. Yet for some reason the police force charged with protecting the heart of the U.S. government was unable to stop a couple dozen angry election-deniers?

It’s not “unbelievable.” It’s not “shocking.” And it’s certainly not “unimaginable.”

It’s intentional.

Joe is the associate director of the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University and the host of the WTF Just Happened Today? podcast.

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