The Capitol’s recent storming by Donald Trump’s supporters highlighted a stark contrast in the treatment between perceived “patriots” and those that took part in the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer.
According to CNN, DC police arrested five times as many people during the height of the BLM protests, compared to how many were arrested during the insurrection that took place at the Capitol. The publication compared arrest stats for June 1, 2020, when there were 316 arrests, and January 6, 2021, when only 61 were arrested.
Those that were arrested at the Capitol also faced less serious charges than those arrested over the summer. Charges have mostly been for misdemeanor curfew violations or charges of unlawful entry. In June, demonstrators faced felony rioting charges, among others.
The amount of force used in each case also varied widely. For BLM protests, crowds were faced with military helicopters, National Guard troops, and tear gas. The insurrectionists faced a much smaller amount of police.
Another interesting point is more officers were injured in the riot last week than during ten days of protests between May 29 and June 7. Last week, 56 officers were injured while responding, compared to 21 officers in June of last year.
The insurrection also proved to be more deadly. No officers died during the protests in DC over the summer. Officer Brian Sicknick died Thursday night after injuries he sustained in the attack on the Capitol.
A spokeswoman for MPD, Kristen Metzger, says that several factors impacted the difference in arrest numbers. One aspect is that the curfew was not announced in advance. Another is the Capitol is outside of their jurisdiction.
“When we announce (a curfew) in advance, we have enough resources to get people into the vans, and we’re ready to make mass arrests,” Metzger told CNN.
The executive director of the ACLU of DC, Monica Hopkins, told CNN that the disparities highlight “when officers choose to do something and when they choose to do nothing.”