US Capitol rioters given ‘white privilege’ treatment as soft police tactics slammed

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As hundreds of white supporters of Donald Trump ran riot through America's seat of power, Twitter users asked: "What if these were Black Lives Matter protesters?"

Washington's Capitol police are facing heavy criticism for being unprepared and failing to stop the violent invasion by hundreds of white men and women, just months after peaceful BLM protesters were intimidated by soldiers and tear gassed.

The force has been accused of being intentionally soft on the white crowd.

Photos reveal the stark contrast between the law enforcement reaction to Wednesday's insurrection and the suppression of non-violent demonstrations after the police death of George Floyd.

It was a menacing scene on June 1 when heavily-armed National Guard members – armed, helmeted and wearing camouflage, stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, overlooking peaceful protesters, in an intimidating show of force not far from Capitol Hill.

Click here for our live blog with the latest updates on the chaos in Washington.

National Guard members stand guard on the steps of the Lincolm Memorial during a protest against police brutality on June 2
(Image: Getty Images)

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A day earlier, peaceful demonstrators were dispersed with tear gas, flash grenades and rubber bullets as US Park Police and National Guard troops forced them to leave a plaza so Trump could walk from the White House to a church for an unannounced photo op that angered church leaders.

It came after Trump declared himself the "president of law and order" and demanded that state governors send in the National Guard to "dominate the streets" amid violent and peaceful unrest following Floyd's death.

The next day in Washington, 88 people were arrested during protests against police brutality as demonstrators once again faced tear gas.

More than 5,000 police officers, National Guard troops and federal agents were deployed in June.

Trump fanatics invade the Capitol building after storming past police
(Image: Getty Images)

A demonstrator is helped after being pepper sprayed by law enforcement during a protest against police brutality in June
(Image: Getty Images)

In many cities after Floyd was killed by police, police used tear gas, rubber bullets, violence and arrests to suppress peaceful demonstrations.

There were cases where protesters were the aggressors, and there were riots and looting in some places.

Fast forward to Wednesday, when the disgraced and outgoing president refused to deploy the National Guard as white pro-Trump terrorists, far outnumbering the police, pushed past barricades, smashed windows and were free to rampage through the Capitol building during one of America's darkest days.

After Trump resisted, the approval to send in the National Guard came from Vice President Mike Pence well after the fact.

A federal law enforcement official told CNN that National Guard did not anticipate being used to protect federal facilities during Wednesday's demonstation by Trump supporters, including white supremacists and far-right extremists.

The source said the Trump administration had decided earlier this week that job would fall to civilian law enforcement.

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Video showed police officers opening a barricade so the mob could stream through, and police taking selfies with insurrectionists, sparking outrage online, as four people died.

One – a Trump fanatic – was shot dead by police, and three suffered medical emergencies.

Armed police managed to arrest some of the mob inside the Capitol building. Pepper spray and tear gas were used against some of the mob.

Demonstrators protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd last year
(Image: Getty Images)

A police officer is seen with Trump supporters who invaded the Capitol building
(Image: Getty Images)

At least 52 people were arrested.

Bakari Sellers, a lawyer and former Democratic state representative in South Carolina, shared a photo of an insurrectionist stealing House Speaker NancyPelosi's lecturn, writing: "George Floyd was murdered for less."

The author and scholar Ibram X Kendi tweeted: “White privilege is on display like never before in the US Capitol."

Shannon Sharpe, a former American football player, wrote: “Peaceful protestors got pepper sprayed so Trump could hold a Bible up for a photo in front of a church."

The Black Lives Matter Global Network described the riots as a "coup" and said it was "one more example of the hypocrisy in our country's law enforcement response to protest".

A Trump supporter sits inside the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Riot police tear-gassed peaceful BLM protesters in Washington on June
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

The group wrote in a statement: "When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets.

"Make no mistake, if the protesters were Black, we would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot."

Charles Ramsey, a law enforcement analyst, told CNN on Thursday: "Yesterday should never have happened. (The police) were totally unprepared to deal with the crowds."

He added:  "There's no excuse for it. They should have had enough people on the Capitol grounds."

Referring to earlier demonstrations by Black Lives Matter activists, he said: "You saw images of police officers on the steps of the Capitol… you didn't see any of that yesterday.

"The intel was there. These right-wing groups made it very clear that they were going to be there."

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