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.

KEEP READING

Advancement Project Calls on America to Move Beyond Police and Prisons: “We Can’t Reform This System”

A year after George Floyd’s murder, Advancement Project National Office reflects on how to build a #FreeandSafe society for all people of color.

Read More
The Best Mother’s Day Gift is Freedom

By Ashley Carter, Justice Project Program Deputy Director and Senior Staff Attorney Photo credit: Cyndi Elledge // Photos are a part of the #FreeBlackWomxn series. Visit www.freeblackwomxn.org. Thousands of women with children across the United States will spend this Mother’s Day behind bars. The crisis of mass incarceration has fueled a family separation endemic: more than 150,000 children have a parent who is in jail simply because they are too poor to afford their court-imposed cash bail. This year we are working to support the 2021 Black Mama’s Day Bailout organized and led by our community partners…

Read More
Black Mama Bailout: #FreeBlackWomxn

Michigan Liberation and the Advancement Project National Office have launched the #FreeBlackWomxn campaign, a photo and storytelling project that elevates the voices of Black Michigan mothers who have experienced incarceration. We are honored that Kimberly, Machelle, Geneva, Darnita, Dominica, Irene, and Tamika shared their stories with us. Click each woman’s photo below to read their experience with incarceration.

Read More
Photo of the back of a police officer
More Cop Convictions Won’t Stop Racist Police Violence

By Thomas B. Harvey, Justice Project Program Director Last week, as people across America waited for a verdict in Derek Chauvin’s trial, police in Ohio murdered a 16-year-old girl, Ma’Khia Bryant. As Chauvin was found guilty on three counts for murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, Ma’Khia Bryant lay dead in the street in Columbus. Credit: Fred Moon While we should hope that Chauvin’s conviction brings some peace and healing to George Floyd’s family, friends, and the broader Minneapolis community, Ma’Khia’s murder reinforced a disturbing reality: individual convictions are irrelevant to the movement to end police violence. Cops will continue to…

Read More
Civil Rights and Racial Justice Organizations Applaud Chauvin Verdict: Accountability in the Courtroom One Step in Journey to Justice

This verdict, while unexpected in light of far too many past cases like this, does not bring George Floyd back.

Read More
Advancement Project Welcomes Chauvin Verdict, Implores America to Move Beyond Policing

Today, in response to the conviction of Derek Chauvin for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter...

Read More
Advancement Project Statement on Murder of Adam Toledo

Today, we join Chicago in grief and outrage at the murder of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Latino boy whose life was cruelly taken by Chicago Police. We express our deepest sympathy to Adam’s friends and family; we stand in solidarity with organizers, activists, and the broader Chicago community as they take to the street to express their despair and demand justice.

Read More
Mapping Injustice: Navigating the Criminal Legal System 101

Grassroots organizers are leading the fight to dismantle the incarceration state. In its current form, the criminal legal system criminalizes and incarcerates people of color in the name of “law and order.” In 2021, Advancement Project National Office, along with Michigan Liberation, Close the Workhouse, Neighborhood Defender Service Detroit, Detroit Justice Center, and East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition (EBRPPRC), partnered to present a forum series on the various phases of a criminal case: Policing, Arrest, and Pretrial Trial, Sentencing, and Plea Negotiations Incarceration and Re-Entry During each session, organizers and lawyers mapped the…

Read More
Advancement Project Statement on Daunte Wright’s Murder, Police Claims of Accidental Discharge

“We are heartbroken and outraged at the murder of Daunte Wright. We stand in solidarity with Daunte’s family and the Black and Brown Minnesotans who are sharing their grief, outrage, and disgust after police have taken the life of another Black man in their state.

Read More
Civil Rights, Racial Justice Organizations Applaud Biden’s Executive Order Aimed at Facilitating Voter Registration, Urges Robust Implementation and Tracking

Media Contact: Elana Needle Email: [email protected] The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative—the foremost diverse coalition of national racial justice and civil rights organizations representing and serving more than 53 million people in the United States—applauds President Joseph R. Biden’s recent executive action to make it easier for Americans to register to vote. Signed on the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the new Biden executive order requiring federal agencies to submit plans to help facilitate voter registration invokes the legacy of the 600 activists, including the late Congressman John Lewis, who were attacked by law enforcement as they attempted to…

Read More