Watching the different law enforcement responses to BLM protests at the Capitol and those of Trump supporters was clear in black and white, literally. While military presence was very heavy during the BLM protests, they did not show up for duty on the day Trump’s friends invaded the Capitol.
However, the sheer havoc they wreaked and the damage they caused looked nothing like a legitimate protest. It is beyond fathomable that they were able to get through the law enforcement presence to get inside the building. Yet, not only were they able to get inside without much resistance, they had a field day.
Protestors or Extremists
President Joe Biden was not impressed. He labelled them as “far-right extremists” and “domestic terrorists.” While this country has seen its share of domestic acts of violence, there is no law on the books that specifically addresses domestic terrorism as a crime. That could change, however. Chairman Adam Schiff of California is aiming to make domestic terrorism a federal crime. The Confronting the Threat of Domestic Terrorism Act would punish those with up to life in prison for acts of aggression “with the intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population, influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion, or affect the conduct of a government.”
If A Domestic Terrorism Law is Enacted, Who Will it Target?
Given the tumultuous relationship between law enforcement and communities of color, particularly the African American community, strengthening police powers incites fear. With the arsenal of sophisticated tools already at their disposal to keep track of activists, what do they need more police powers for? And just who is going to be the recipients of this excess police power? It will probably not be the White Trump supporters. The type of scrutiny that Black activists are subjected to by law enforcement is unprecedented with other racial groups.
Does anyone think that had Black activists rammed their way into the Capital that the police response would have been the same? Would shots have been fired? The answers to these two questions speak to the fear of Black activists if additional police powers for domestic terrorism become law. Law enforcement’s misuse of the law, abuse and biased application are issues communities of color are familiar with and have credible indication that more police powers will lead to a positive outcome.
Things Don’t Look Good
When Congresswoman Karen Bass questioned former FBI Director Jeff Sessions about the Black Identity Extremist labeling of Black activists, she reminded him that White nationalists were known for committing documented acts of aggression. Thus, she asked him if there was also a label such as “White Identity Extremists.” The FBI Director faltered in his response. There was not.