DENVER (CBS4)– Watching Wednesday’s events in the nation’s capital was terrifying for many, but for some Coloradans, it also felt like a betrayal. Many people have pointed out how differently the pro-Trump insurrectionists were treated by law enforcement compared to last summer’s Black Lives Matter protestors.
“If a person of color had gone into a federal building, they probably wouldn’t have come out of that building,” says Dr. Apryl Alexander is an associate professor in psychology at the University of Denver.
She was appalled watching a faction of Trump supporters storm and vandalize the U. S. Capitol Wednesday, “Yesterday’s demonstration was an act of domestic terrorism.”
Alexander noticed the people who invaded the Capitol were treated very differently than the Black Lives Matter protestors were in June 2020.
“They were kept a distance from the Capitol and excessive force in the form of chemical weapons were used.”
She believes persons of color are treated like criminals when they protest.
“Personally wasn’t surprised,” she says, “We had indigenous populations at Standing Rock who were sprayed for just peacefully protesting. Colin Kaepernick who was silently protesting and that was deemed inappropriate.”
Eighteenth Judicial District Attorney George Brauchler says the police response to the siege of the Capitol was weak and it’s something law enforcement sworn to protect the people’s house should answer for.
“Somehow these guys get caught with their pants down in a way that is not only embarrassing, but dangerous,” said Brauchler.
He also says demonstrators and rioters, no matter their political ideology, should be held accountable for the damage they cause and he hasn’t seen that bear out in either the case of Black Lives Matter protestors who caused property damage or Wednesday’s Pro-Trump rioters.
“Regardless if you are motivated by the right, the left or anywhere in between this kind of conduct in our democratic republic is intolerable,” he says.
Both he and Dr. Alexander agree that people should be able to exercise their First Amendment rights peacefully like thousands of Black Lives Matter protestors did last summer and thousands of protestors who oppose the results of the election did Wednesday at the Capitol, but when the law is broken everyone should be held to the same standard.
“I’m hoping that we take away from yesterday’s events that systemic and institutional racism is real and it’s something that we need to confront really directly in this country,” says Dr. Alexander.
“There is no rule of law if the standard is different for one group versus another,” said Brauchler.