One of the most powerful images from today wasn’t the armed Trump insurrectionists attacking the Capitol.
It was a picture taken back in June, when hundreds of armed National Guard troops stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial to defend it against largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters.
This time, according to news media, the cops who are supposed to defend the Capitol were overwhelmed, unprepared, and unable to stop the riot. CNN called it “an enormous security failure.”
Or maybe, as Cat Brooks, founder of the Anti Police-Terror Project, told me tonight, it was that “white folks get to be white folks in white America.”
In the wake of the George Floyd protests, some 14,000 people were arrested. Tonight: Thirteen arrests in what can only be described as a violent, seditious action driven by Donald Trump, who remains president tonight.
Oh, and who told the rioters that he loved them.
At 12:29, when the first violence started to break out, Brooks tweeted:
“I’m not surprised by the lackadaisical response of law enforcement,” she told me. “If Black folks were there, we would be arrested, dead, tear-gassed, beaten, and portrayed as domestic terrorists.”
I watched CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. On Fox, people tried to defend the cops by saying they used “restraint,” that they sought to “de-escalate.” That, of course, is what progressives have demanded from the cops for years – and when the protests are about police violence against Black people, it never happens.
“Black people have been told we don’t have the right to stand up for our rights, and if we have the audacity to do it, we will be met with violence,” Brooks said.
I saw video of Capitol police politely holding the doors open so that the rioters could leave. And go home, not to jail.
I also saw that almost nobody was wearing a mask. At some point, public-health workers will have to deal with the fallout. But that didn’t seem to matter to the Trumpers, who were being fundamentally selfish. (A mask isn’t just about your health; it’s about protecting other people.)
But back to the riot.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, quoting FDR, called it “a day that will live in infamy.” What I saw, horrible as it was, was a fairly small number of people – hundreds, not thousands. I didn’t see a mass uprising in favor of Trump. I saw a handful of people with guns and Trump banners breaking into the Capitol while the cops largely let it happen.
But there’s a much larger context here. “I’m more concerned about what this signals for the physical safety of Black folks, Brown, folks, queer folks, immigrants, over the next few weeks,” Brooks said. “I don’t think American will ever be the same again.”
That’s because Trump not only encouraged this but continued to push the narrative that the election was “stolen,” lying to his followers, while the insurrection was taking place.
Yes, it’s only two weeks until Joe Biden takes the oath of office. But it could be a very, very ugly two weeks.
CNN reports that people close to Trump say he “has lost it,” and there are members of the cabinet talking about the 25th Amendment. If Trump were removed from office, he would be unable to run again in four years.
The top people in the administration are getting ready to resign. Trump’s allies are going to start fleeing, and are going to try to distance themselves from him to save some semblance of their reputations.
But Trump’s behavior is not a surprise; he’s been acting like this for a long time. And all the people who sided with him and empowered him are going to have trouble explaining themselves.
And for the record: Thanks to the vote in Georgia, two of the three most powerful and important people in Washington DC — the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House — are women from San Francisco.