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  • Skyla Jewell-Hammie

Tell the Truth: What Happened at the U.S. Capitol?

Updated: Apr 6, 2021

This past Wednesday, thousands of people surrounded the U.S. Capitol Building in a last-ditch effort to overthrow President-elect Joe Biden’s win. As of January 7th, four people have been announced dead, 52 people arrested, and 14 law enforcement injured from the planned riot. Amidst the dangerous breach of the U.S. Capitol, the lawmakers resumed their act of finalizing Biden’s victory.

The issue at hand is the law enforcement presence during the rampage does not align with the influx of police during the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests over the summer. The arrests made at the Capitol on Wednesday night were largely from disobeying the 6 p.m. curfew, not from entering the Capitol. Then again, recent updates have revealed what many in the Black community already predicted; white supremacy and systemic racism are alive and well within law enforcement.

Across the country, law enforcement precincts have launched investigations into their own as a result of uncovering multiple, off-duty law police present at last week’s riot. Many plain-clothed officers posted photos to social media boasting about their involvement in the riot, according to a New York Times report. One was carrying around his badge and decided to flaunt it to Capitol security, which happened to be Black men. The white off-duty cop expected leniency because he was “doing this for them,” in a response made to Buzzfeed News.

Let’s face the truth. If this mob was a collective of Black people, there would have been too many fatalities and injuries to count. Before even reaching the Capitol, there would have been a massive arrangement of The National Guard ready to disperse. Instead, two U.S. Capitol Police officers were suspended after the riot, while several others continue to be investigated due to their potential role in the riot.

CNN recently reported that the two cops were taking selfies with rioters and helping them around and inside the building. Video footage recently went viral on social media, which showcases direction violations of Department regulations, according to Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman.

The nation sees the stark contrast when it comes to the lives of innocent Black people and the protection against white supremacists. In a heartbreaking example of this, the nation needs to learn Miriam Carey’s name.

Miriam Carey was a 34-year-old dental hygienist from Ardsley, N.Y. She and her 13-month-old baby Erica were traveling from Connecticut when Carey’s life was cut short by US Capitol Police on October 3, 2013. Many stories circulating her final moments falsely accuse Carey of being mentally unstable and trying to breach security.

Co-workers praise Carey as the kindest and most loving person, especially to her young daughter. Working two jobs, she was seen as the utmost reliable and professional worker. As she said goodbye to her coworkers and headed off to D.C., it appeared like any other day. Unfortunately, Carey was met with 26 bullets by US Capitol Police, trying to flee from the tense scene.

This all began when Carey drove towards a White House checkpoint and was approached by Secret Service. Trying to avoid the officers, she crashes into a barricade and drives away. With a high-speed chase in effect, Carey tries to reverse while cornered and hits a police car. After driving away a second time, she crashes into another security barrier and is fatally shot five times by police, according to a CNN report.

Carey’s sister, Valerie, was unable to process the stark contrast between her sister’s death and the lack of protection against the mob last Wednesday. To her and many around the nation, Carey’s death is seen as a tragedy that could have been prevented if not for the systemic racism at play.

According to Valerie, Carey was making a U-turn and was rightfully scared by the amount of police presence surrounding her. She had nowhere to go and was keeping her child out of harm’s way.

Two years later, Omar Gonzalez jumped the White House fence and made it inside the White House. Gonzalez pled guilty to two federal charges, but only received a 17-month jail sentence and a 3-year supervised release, according to CNN.

Why are Black communities seen as such a threat? Why did Gonzalez and the mob of rioters receive muted restraint while entering government buildings, but a Black woman and her child are shot at 26 times for making a wrong U-turn near a government building? Why can a mob of largely white extremists simply walk into the Capitol, some being influenced and led by Capitol Police? Many of these people had the privilege of smiling and taking selfies, with their appearance made public to the entire nation.

There is one group of people who are using their voice for human rights, but then there is this angry mob of people who are angered by the loss of Trump’s presidency. One is not like the other and it’s time that truth was laid out.

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