If anyone needed further proof that the Blue Lives Matter movement is more about scolding Black anger and less about protecting police officers, last week’s riot at the Capitol sealed it, as do new court documents detailing what occurred during the siege.
According to New York Times reporter Alan Feuer, the latest Capitol riot court case filing, prosecutors allege that a Capitol Police officer shook the hands of two pro-Trump rioters and said “it’s your house now.” One of the rioters claimed that this was uttered in fear, but cops don’t tend to offer handshakes, selfies, and hugs when they are fearful; they offer bullets instead.
CNN interviewed multiple police officers who say they were maced, kicked, beaten, and had their weapons used against them by pro-Trump rioters during the Capitol attack. D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone told CNN that he was tasered several times and felt the rioters reach for his gun. “They were screaming out, ‘Kill him with his own gun,’” Fanone said.
He apparently considered using deadly force, but believed he would be overpowered by the well-armed crowd if he even tried.
Perhaps that assessment was influenced by people who made up the mob: the AP reports that police officers and highly trained ex-military personnel were represented among the Capitol rioters. This dramatically impacted the day’s proceedings, as they were able to coordinate tactical formations against those protecting the Capitol and lawmakers inside, outflanking them with ease. But Fanone’s understandable hesitation also says the quiet part loud: unarmed Black Lives Matter protesters in D.C. last summer were viewed as formidable adversaries and were treated accordingly, while militiamen were initially regarded as non-threatening despite being everything but.
“The other option I thought of was to try to appeal to somebody’s humanity,” Fanon said. “And I just remember yelling out that I have kids. And it seemed to work.”
A group of rioters then offered him a circle of protection, suddenly deeming him worthy of protection. During the candid CNN interview, however, Fanone was visibly frustrated that it came down to that. “Thank you, but fuck you for being there,” he said.
Other anecdotes weren’t much better, emphasis ours:
[Officer Christina] Laury, who was guarding the line to make sure there were no gaps for anyone to slip through, was hit with a much stronger type of pepper spray that’s supposed to be used only on bears, she said. [...] She was lucky enough not to be struck with anything but saw others beaten with objects.
“They were getting hit with metal objects. Metal poles. I remember seeing pitchforks. They’re getting sprayed, knocked down,” said Laury, who added that reinforcements kept rotating in so others could rest during the hours-long battle.”
Officer Daniel Hodges was one of those officers who tried to battle back rioters but was roughed up in the fight. Hodges gained notice after footage of him circulated being crushed by a door. The 32-year-old officer is seen in the clip with blood dripping through his teeth as he kept gasping for enough air so he could yell “Help” at the top of his lungs.
“There’s a guy ripping my mask off, he was able to rip away the baton and beat me with it,” said Hodges, who was stuck in the door and added that his arm was bent before they ripped the weapon away.
“He was practically foaming at the mouth so just, these people were true believers in the worst way.”
Given the tactical nature of the attack, there are growing concerns that some rioters received intel from Capitol insiders, making it easier for them to target the offices of specific Democrats. Democratic lawmakers have also accused Republican colleagues of offering “reconnaissance” tours of the Capitol building the day before the riot and are calling for their expulsion.
These concerns were only heightened when new video and audio of the attack were made public in the days following the attack. The Guardian uncovered the following exchange via a walkie talkie app Zello:
“We are in the main dome right now,” said a female militia member, speaking on Zello, her voice competing with the cacophony of a clash with Capitol police. “We are rocking it. They’re throwing grenades, they’re frickin’ shooting people with paintballs, but we’re in here.”
“God bless and godspeed. Keep going,” said a male voice from a quiet environment.
“Jess, do your shit,” said another. “This is what we fucking lived up for. Everything we fucking trained for.”
And the following video shows pro-Trump insurrectionists discussing floor plans inside a ransacked Capitol office:
The only way the rioters were able to get this far was by defying and violently attacking the same officers their ilk have long stood up for. There were Blue Lives Matter flags and pro-police sloganeering was helmed by the same people happily endangering their lives, all on the falsehood of a rigged election, peddled by President Trump and his allies. These are the same people who commend officers for shooting unarmed Black suspects for far less. But as soon as the cops trained their weapons on them, the police became the traitors. As one dazed woman in the pro-Trump crowd said on January 6, “They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”
It remains difficult to reckon with the fact that this event, planned in broad daylight and causing alarm at the FBI, was met with light police presence while BLM protesters were met with Robocop-style force and violent intimidation tactics. But perhaps nothing is more all-American than this.