Dear 100 Hour Board,
How is this a felony but many people on Jan. 6 weren’t charged at all or were let in the building? Why weren’t there national guard on Jan. 6 even though there were threats of violence? Like there were National guard over the Summer on the steps of the capitol.
-My Name Here
I doubt this comes as much of a surprise, but I'm quite confident the answer is racism.
In this country, white people are allowed to walk around with guns and complain about their problems, and even storm the Capitol building. Black people protesting against police brutality get murdered, teargassed, thrown in jail, and abused. Black children have been murdered for suspicion of having a gun.
Still, I should correct you: Many of the people who participated in the Capitol riot were charged and indicted, and many will spend a long time in prison. Some have been let off on bail, but there certainly is not a shortage of consequences. (See here for a brief explanation on some of the charges and individuals involved). From my personal experience, there are even a majority of white, conservative, or republican individuals who disagree strongly with what happened on Jan. 6. Additionally, they weren't really 'let in' the building. I think in comparison to the death and terror that police forces have inflicted on BIPOC protestors over the last year, the situation at the Capitol definitely seems pacificist. And that's a very frustrating thing to think about. But there were a lot of posted security officials who tried their best to do their job.
There are a lot of opinions swirling around this issue right now, and I by no means think mine is the most correct. That said, I think the comparison of these two situations very clearly demonstrates that this country has a lot more mercy for white supremacists than for Black protestors fighting against voter suppression. It's pretty clear from America's history of oppression against Black people, the last year included, that if those Capitol protestors had been Black individuals walking around with guns, every one of them would have been shot dead before they even reached the door.
And to me, that's the greatest difference. The Capitol rioters will be charged, but in America white people get due process when they take their political action too far. Black people and many other people of color are rarely so lucky to get due process. White supremacists can storm the freaking Capitol building of the U.S. of A. because they're mad that their old white man didn't win the election. Black people get murdered by law enforcement on the regular for walking down the street with a hoodie on, or for fighting for their right to vote, or standing up for their right to live in peace, or marching for their right to be recognized as an equal human being under the law. The Georgia voting restriction bill isn't explicitly taking away the right to vote, but it is a symbolic and unnecessary gesture that feels a lot like a retaliatory middle finger after the outcome of the runoff elections. So the fact that felony convictions accompany going against the bill is simply further proof that here, the color of your skin changes what justice means for you.
Nobody deserves to die for standing up for their rights or beliefs. I don't even think that the individuals who died as a result of the Jan 6. riot deserved to die. We shouldn't say that they deserve the same fate as George Floyd or Daunte Wright. Because they don't. Nobody does, and to wish death on anyone is missing the point and frankly, abusing the justice system. But this country is riddled with racism - the interpersonal kind and the systemic kind. Some people are convicted for bringing water to voters in 10 hour-long lines. Some people are murdered for protesting against police violence. Some people are murdered for jogging through their own neighborhood. Those people look different than the people who are allowed to put their feet up on the desk of a congressional representative after breaking into a government building. Consequences in this country look different because this country is racist, and we're constantly having to reckon with that fact as we work to change it.