White privilege is breaking into the United States Capitol unscathed


Emma Johnson

Our upcoming February Issue of The Express is devoted to telling Black student’s stories and recognizing the inequities within our district and our school.

Emma Johnson, Editor-In-Chief

Wednesday I found myself, at 17 years old, living through another major historical event. Sitting in front of my TV for nearly seven hours I took in the events of the day, watching Trump supporters, armed and violent, storm the United States Capitol Building. I watched as a rioter took a selfie with Capitol Police after breaking into the Capitol, and I knew I was witnessing white privilege at its ugliest.

Protesting in front of the Capitol is a tradition in the United States–a part of this country’s foundation, but what we saw on Wednesday was no protest; it was domestic terrorism. 

The rioters from Wednesday’s event were not interested in a peaceful protest; they were ready to take the building while carrying guns, zip-ties and hand-bombs. 

In a country that kills Black people for paying with a $20 bill, sleeping in their bed or holding a mobile phone, I think we know exactly what would have gone down if those protestors were Black. This summer the National Guard stood on the Capitol armed in riot gear for the Black Lives Matter protests, but for Wednesday’s riot, they conveniently weren’t called until hours into the insurrection on Capitol Hill. Not to mention over 300 people were arrested in D.C. after one day of Black Lives Matter protests, the majority for violating curfew, while only 17 arrests were initially made at the Capitol on Wednesday.

Wednesday’s protests were not unknown to the government as the people planning to attend organized over social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Parler. Dialogue between these rioters on Twitter had full-fledged plans of carpools to DC so they did not have to worry about carrying their firearms on planes.

But of course, why would Trump call the National Guard on those he says are “very special” and who he claims to love, as he said in his now removed Twitter video addressing the violence. Trump was unafraid to call BLM protestors thugs or make the claim “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in a tweet on May 29, yet called his own followers “true patriots” when they looted the Capitol.

In the wake of the raid, I’ve heard multiple people make demeaning comments about how what happened at the Capitol is no worse than Black Live Matter Protests, which is an embarrassing and tone-deaf assertion. How dare people compare a civil rights movement, which was 93 percent peaceful, according to The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, to domestic terrorists raiding one of the most historic buildings in the United States full of the country’s leaders. Especially when their reason to raid was over false voter fraud claims that Trump continues to feed to them over and over again.

As I watched police get beaten with Blue Lives Matter flags, the irony of it confirmed to me that Blue Lives Matter has never been pro-police but a way to silence the Black Lives Matter movement. While, yes, the Capitol Police force was overwhelmed, it is clear, despite the violence of this group, the police seemed to show an absurd amount of grace to the white insurgents. 

Congressman Jamaal Bowman addressed this issue by introducing the Congressional Oversight of Unjust Policing (COUP) Act. The COUP Act is being proposed to investigate the mob attack of the congressional chambers, address systemic failures in the Capitol security apparatus and investigate alleged ties between members of U.S. Capitol Police and white supremacist movements. 

The COUP Act is a great first step in addressing Wednesday’s attacks and holding the correct people accountable, but it will take a lot to fully battle the white supremacy and double standards within law enforcement. In a country where Black Americans fear for their lives at traffic stops while white Americans have a free pass to break into the Capitol and vandalize the offices of representatives and senators, there is an entire nation’s history of race that needs to be corrected.

 This is an event we can never forget in hopes that we can finally address the inequities between Black Americans and law enforcement. A country that values domestic terrorists over its citizens who have faced continuous oppression because of race is simply not a sustainable country. 

Our upcoming February Issue of The Express is devoted to telling Black student’s stories and recognizing the inequities within our district and our school. Wednesday’s events only further prove how you are treated and your opportunities have a direct tie to the color of your skin.