Police Response to Capitol Breach

House and Senate

Instead of National Guard troops being posted around landmarks before a protest even began, we saw the Defense Department initially deny a request to send in troops — and that was after the Capitol had been breached. Instead of peaceful protesters being doused in tear gas, we saw a mob posing for selfies with police and being allowed to wander the corridors of power like they couldn’t decide whether they were invading the Capitol or touring it. Instead of President Trump calling these violent supporters “thugs,” as he called racial justice protesters, and advocating for more violent police crackdowns, we saw him remind his followers that they were loved before asking them nicely to go home.“It feels really unbelievable,” said Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation with the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. But, she said, it’s also totally unsurprising.

That’s because the discrepancies we saw Wednesday are just another example of a trend Kishi’s team has been tracking for months as they collect data on protester and law enforcement interactions across America. “We see a different response to the right wing,” she said.

While protesters themselves have long perceived that police tend to crack down on left-wing protesters and align with those on the right wing, there hasn’t really been data to demonstrate that effect before, said Ed Maguire, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Arizona State University and an expert on police and protester interactions.

But in 2020, Kishi’s ACLED — a data-reporting project that began documenting armed conflicts and protests in African nations — extended its work into the United States. Using information gathered from local media, NGOs, individual journalists and partner organizations, ACLED researchers have catalogued months of detailed information about protests, including when clashes with law enforcement have happened and the type of force used by police. “We don’t necessarily have information on the number of Black vs. white protesters … but we do have a larger view,” Kishi said. “How is law enforcement responding to demonstrations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement versus demonstrations by the right wing … in support of [a] president that may or may not involve organized armed illegal groups?”

Between May 1 and November 28, 2020, authorities were more than twice as likely to attempt to break up and disperse a left-wing protest1 than a right-wing2 one. And in those situations when law enforcement chose to intervene, they were more likely to use force — 34 percent of the time with right-wing protests compared with 51 percent of the time for the left. Given when this data was collected, it predominantly reflects a difference in how police respond to Black Lives Matter, compared with how they respond to anti-mask demonstrations, pro-Trump extremists, QAnon rallies, and militia groups.

This data is new and limited, but it is in keeping with long-documented biases in how police think about and treat Black people compared with white people, and with research that shows police and military personnel overlapping significantly with the same far-right groups they treat preferentially.

It is also in keeping with how different groups of protesters perceive the situation themselves, Maguire said. In his years spent traveling to protests and embedding in crowds to observe and document police and protester interactions, he has interviewed protesters extensively.

Source: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-polices-tepid-response-to-the-capitol-breach-wasnt-an-aberration/

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