Philadelphia Mayor proposes double requirements in monitoring black and white protesters

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney responded to the violence on Capitol Hill Wednesday, creating a stark contrast between the government and police responses to demonstrations by black and white protesters.

Kenney, who appeared on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday, said last year’s months of protests that resulted from police killing of unarmed blacks had not received the same “tone or taste” of response as most white pro-Trump rioters who stormed The Capitol on Wednesday as lawmakers worked to validate the electoral college results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Could you imagine thousands of blacks, coloreds, invading the Capitol – what would have happened to them yesterday?” asked the Democrat, who is white.

The death of George Floyd, a black father who was killed last spring when a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck while being arrested, sparked mostly peaceful protests in cities across the country, including Philadelphia and Washington, by 2020. These demonstrations against police brutality often included clashes with riot police, the presence of members of the US National Guard and counter-demonstrators. Some resulted in violence and looting.

In one incident in June, armed members of the DC National Guard were staged in camouflage at the Lincoln Memorial during a peaceful protest against police brutality.

On the same day, police and National Guard troops dispersed peaceful protesters in Black Lives Matter Plaza, near the White House, to make way for Trump and hold a Bible for a photo at St. John’s Church.

Members of the DC National Guard stand on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as protesters take part in a peaceful protest over the police brutality and the death of George Floyd on June 2, 2020 in Washington, DC

Win McNamee | Getty Images

Many politicians and media personalities comment on the different use of law enforcement agencies at the Capitol protest and the Black Lives Matter rallies that took place last year. MSNBC’s Joy Reid also compared it to rallies against police brutality over the past decade in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore.

“White Americans are never afraid of the cops, even if they riot, even if they try to occupy our Capitol to steal the votes of people who look like me because they own this Capitol in their minds the cops, “said Reid, who is black. She hosts the weekday show “The ReidOut”.

“I guarantee if this were a protest against Black Lives Matter, there would be people who are handcuffed, arrested or dead,” she added.

Four people were killed in the Washington incident, including a woman who was fatally shot and killed by Capitol police. Nearly 68 people were arrested who were linked to the chaos, according to DC police. According to the Capitol Police, 14 people were arrested, mainly on charges of illegal entry. Buildings were locked and lawmakers evacuated when attendees clashed with police, roamed the federal campus, demolished property, and occupied chambers of convention and offices.

Some carried Confederate flags.

A supporter of President Donald Trump wears a Conferderate battle flag on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol near the entrance to the Senate on January 6, 2021 in Washington after breaking security.

Mike Theiler | Reuters

Rioters had already occupied the Capitol and delayed the election count for hours before the DC National Guard was dispatched to secure the campus.

“Some of these police officers took selfies,” Kenney said. “How did you get through bicycle barricades?”

President Donald Trump instigated the day’s events during his Save America rally near the White House, where he urged supporters to go to the Capitol to protest the Congressional vote led by Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump has made unfounded claims of widespread electoral fraud since losing re-election to President-elect Joe Biden in November and has instructed his ardent supporters not to accept the voting results.

The president has claimed without evidence that Philadelphia, a city of more than 1.5 million people that is 44% black and 45% white according to the US Census Bureau, is one of several swing state cities with of a large black population who rigged the elections against him.

The city overwhelmingly voted for Biden and helped him win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes. Trump had turned the state red in the 2016 election cycle.

On January 6, 2021, supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the Capitol in Washington DC, USA.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

In Washington, unarmed members of the National Guard were initially used on Wednesday to direct traffic and assist the local police in controlling the crowd.

Kenney recalled that the national Democratic and Republican conventions held in the city in 2016 and 2020, respectively, had better security than Washington, although officials had time to prepare for the demonstrations.

“We had barriers that a pole vault couldn’t get over if you tried, and there were heavy, high strength barriers that kept people away from the Wells Fargo Center because of the incident,” Kenney told the two conventions.

He highlighted how pro-Trump rioters broke through the Capitol building by jumping over barriers, going up the steps, and entering the building armed.

“I think this is a lot worse for the country,” he said.

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