Police Continue to Protect White Supremacy - Advancement Project - Advancement Project

Police Continue to Protect White Supremacy

By Marques Banks, Justice Project Staff Attorney

If this attack on the Capitol showed one thing, it’s that law and order only applies to Black and Brown people.

As the nation watched white supremacists storm the United States Capitol, I thought about how police react in strikingly different ways to white protesters versus Black protesters. I am a lawyer who has supported protests over police murders from Mike Brown to George Floyd. I was in the streets and personally watched as my friends, colleagues, and other protesters were beaten, teargassed, and arrested in massive numbers for exercising their First Amendment rights in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and so many more. The DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the U.S. Park Police used teargas, flashbangs, and other military-grade weapons with little compassion. When the curfew went into effect on June 1, I witnessed DC police kettle hundreds of protesters. Three hundred and sixteen people were arrested in DC. Capitol and Park Police deployed hundreds of officers to stand guard at federal buildings and monuments to prevent protesters from approaching these buildings' steps. This number represents nearly half of all the protest arrests in DC from May to January 7.

Nationwide, more than 14,000 people were arrested during protests against the murder of Black men and women in the United States by police. Police teargassed protesters in 100 U.S. cities. They regularly used illegal tactics to separate protesters, inundated them with chemical munitions, and beat them severely.

This response stands in stark comparison to what we saw on January 6. Over the summer, there were no selfies taken. Nobody allowed us to cross police lines. No one was peacefully escorted to a safe place when told to leave. The police never retreated; instead, the police called for reinforcements with no hesitation.

Instead, white protesters took the Capitol last week with ease and achieved their goal of stopping the certification of the U.S. presidential election. While the elected officials barricaded themselves in offices, law enforcement stood back and responded passively to the national security threat – a significantly different response to what we saw this summer as Americans marched for racial equity and justice while proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. The Proud Boy’s actions at the Capitol – and law enforcement’s response – was not just a display of white privilege but white supremacy in action.

It is hard to imagine that a city that has more police per capita than any other city in this country was unable to prevent the Capitol Building from being taken by white supremacists. When the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd protests took place this summer, the FBI, ICE, the National Guard, officers from the Bureau of Prisons, and other federal and local agencies activated to protect Washington, DC. For months, Americans watched as protesters standing up for racial justice were arrested, tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets, beaten, and kidnapped by law enforcement in the name of public safety.

Since the 2020 election, Trump supporters have come to Washington, DC armed and ready for violence. Trump supporters have stabbed Black Lives Matter protesters and, on one occasion, a DC police officer, while Muriel Bowers, Washington, DC’s mayor, continues to tell outraged citizens who call Washington, DC home to disengage. While Black DC residents fear constant harassment from the police in DC, white supremacists feel free to roam the city unencumbered by the fear of law enforcement. By contrast, Trump supporters were allowed to attack law enforcement, cross police lines to enter the Capitol, steal property, vandalize it, and largely leave without even the threat of arrest.

This summer, Mayor Bowers enacted curfews in response to the massive protests of racial injustice. When the curfew was active, MPD moved to immediately detain and arrest those protesting racial injustice, causing groups of protestors to seek refuge in a stranger’s house to escape the militarized response from the police. Yet when Mayor Bowser enacted a 6 p.m. curfew in response to last week’s violence on Capitol Hill, the nation watched as those who had just stormed the Capitol were allowed to roam the streets of the city. The nation saw clearly that law enforcement can and will show great restraint when protecting white supremacy.

If this attack on the Capitol showed one thing, it’s that law and order only applies to Black and Brown people. We can no longer allow law enforcement to be a tool of white supremacy. The insurrection was not a failure of law enforcement but white supremacy in action. Policing is not an institution that can be reformed. It is rotten to its core and must be abolished.

Marques Banks is a Justice Project Staff Attorney at Advancement Project National Office and helped create Black Movement-Law Project, an organization providing legal support to the activists and organizations of the Movement for Black Lives.


Fighting for Voting Rights is How We Honor Dr. King’s Legacy

By Jorge L. Vasquez, Jr., Program Director, Power and Democracy until every eligible voter has equal access to the polls and every voting age citizen is eligible to vote without unnecessary and unwarranted interference, there will always be citizens who, as Dr. King coined, “cannot live as a democratic citizen.” “So long as I do not firmly and irrevocably possess the right to vote I do not possess myself. I cannot make up my mind-it is made up for me. I cannot live as a democratic citizen, observing the laws I have helped to enact-I can only submit…

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Responds to DA Announcement in Jacob Blake Shooting

CONTACT Gina Physic [email protected] 202-505-4659 WASHINGTON, DC — The Kenosha County District Attorney, Michael Graveley, today announced that Rusten Sheskey, the police officer who shot Jacob Blake seven times in August will not be criminally charged. On August 23, 2020, Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was shot and seriously injured by police officer Sheskey in Kenosha, Wis. Sheskey shot at Blake’s back seven times as Blake opened the driver’s door to his car. Three of Blake’s sons were in the backseat of the car at the time, witnessing this attack on their father. …

Read More
National Civil Rights Groups Sue Louisiana Judges, Sheriff Over Unconstitutional Bail System

Lawsuit aims to end Baton Rouge’s cash bail system after another person dies awaiting trial at local jail BATON ROUGE, LA – Last night, Fair Fight Initiative, MacArthur Justice Center and Advancement Project National Office sued East Baton Rouge officials in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana, seeking to end the immoral and unconstitutional practice of wealth-based incarceration in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison (EBRPP). The lawsuit was filed on behalf of four individuals who are being held inside of EBRPP and are unable to afford their bail.

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Responds to First 2020 Presidential Debate

President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in the first of three 2020 presidential debates. On the topic of national protests resulting from the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and others, Advancement Project National Office released the following statement.

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Responds to Breonna Taylor Decision

Six months have passed since Louisville police murdered 26-year-old Breonna Taylor in her home on March 13, 2020. After months of nationwide protest and uprisings, and both local and national demands to defund the police, a Louisville Grand Jury’s decision was announced today. Attorney General Daniel Cameron today made an announcement regarding the investigation into Taylor’s murder, stating that it was not up to him to decide if the loss of Breonna’s life was a tragedy and that, “the answer to that question was unequivocally yes.” However, the Grand Jury’s decision to indict only one of…

Read More
Civil Rights Organizations Debunk Myths of No COVID-19 Cases in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison

Impacted people behind bars share harrowing stories of coronavirus outbreaks, unsanitary conditions Baton Rouge, LA – Last night, several civil rights and racial justice organizations pushed back on efforts by the Sheriff and Warden of the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison to silence the detainees trapped inside the facility and to hide from community members and taxpayers what the organizations say is really happening in the jail.  The Sheriff and Warden, defendants in a federal lawsuit filed by the advocates, claim that the jail has the coronavirus pandemic under control, but the plaintiffs and…

Read More
Webinar on the Power of Sheriffs in Florida – August 10, 2020 at 2pET/11aPT

On Monday, August 10, 2020, at 2p ET/11a PT, join Advancement Project National Office, Dream Defenders and New Florida Majority for a webinar on the power and role of sheriffs in Florida, and how sheriffs impact the school-to-prison pipeline. Learn about organizing efforts to defund policing budgets and address harm throughout Florida, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Receive political education about the history of policing and what communities are doing to build power to build a world without police. Register today!  …

Read More
Advancement Project National Office Supports New Counseling Not Criminalization Bill

Media Contact: Gina Physic, 202-505-4659, [email protected] Lawmakers today introduced a bill to help schools cut ties with police. Under the Counseling Not Criminalization Act, Federal funding would be prohibited from being used to hire, train, or keep law enforcement in schools. In addition, the bill would create a $2.5 billion grant program to replace police in schools with school psychologists, social workers, and other staff who are suited to help support mental health and provide trauma-informed services to young people.  The Senate version of the Counseling Not Criminalization Act was…

Read More
The Power of Prosecutors – Video and Infographic

Prosecutors (also known as state attorneys or district attorneys) have enormous power in shaping justice in our communities. You have the power to elect prosecutors committed to ending mass incarceration. Watch our town hall “The Power of Prosecutors: Know Before You Vote,” and share our infographic. It’s time for people of color to be #FreeAndSafe…

Read More