Black Lives Matter Protests Vs Capitol Riots


Black Lives Matter protesters are on their knees holding signs. The fist, a symbol of black power and resistance to injustice is held up by many of the protesters. (ABC News)

Hera Pokharel, AME Reporter

Image shows rioters looting the capitol building, being met with a lenient police officer holding out his hand. They are holding Trump flags and the American Flag. (Politico)

The surge of protests in the past year calling for political and social change has dramatically influenced the country. The photography between two major events depicts a story of two Americas; both passionate and fervent in cause. 

BLM stands for Black Lives Matter, a social movement that calls for the liberation of Black Americans. More people than ever in America’s history gathered together spontaneously and began protesting for reform and policy.

According to Acled, a nonprofit organization dedicated to research political violence and protests around the globe, found that 93 percent of the BLM protests were peaceful. 

The civil unrest regarding police brutality was resurrected throughout the protests by the violent response of the police force. Former President Donald Trump referred to BLM as a “symbol of hate.” 

On the other hand, the Capitol was invaded on January 6th, 2021 by a mob of Trump supporters in an attempt to overturn the results of the election. They broke into federal property and caused havoc, forcing congress to hide in fear of their safety. One policeman and four others died according to the New York Times. 

Sophomore Brenner Steinkampwas asked if the two social movements were executing their rights justifiably.

He said, ”Protesting is a right of Americans in this country, but it is not a right to break into the Capitol, it is not a right to go through government documents, and it is not a right to steal property from anywhere, whether it’s a grocery store or the Capitol building.” 

The Acled report also indicates that the media focus on looting and vandalism is unwarranted by the fact that there is little evidence to suggest that demonstrators have engaged in widespread violence. There are instead reports according to Acled of agent provocateurs or infiltrators. The Acled report states, ”These disinformation campaigns may be contributing to the decline in public support for the BLM movement after the initial increase following Floyd’s killing, especially amongst the white population.” 

The invasion at the capitol was largely violent, with the destruction of federal property and pictures showing altercations between rioters and police. 

A protester is holding up the black power fist, met with a large police force in riot gear. (AP News)

”I think they were very different and one of the main reasons is that BLM protestors are protesting for their lives and need to protest to get the attention to the issues they are facing and to make a change, since those changes are not taking place without protests and if everyone stays silent about those issues, they won’t progress and be improved, without protests,” Steinkamp said. “I think there are similarities also between the two groups, they obviously know there are power and numbers, they just choose to use those numbers differently and both sides take actions they shouldn’t in destroying property, both sides have had their moments of being destructive and they’ve seen the backlash and the consequences of that.” 

Protesting in America has become a significant and prominent part of our history. From the Boston Tea Party to the Stonewall Riots and the Women’s Suffrage Parade, protesting has become a part of our culture. The people’s right and place to revolt against injustice. 

”I believe in the right to protest your opinion, not to destroy property,” said Sophomore Gabe McGrew. 

 Civil disobedience against prejudice and discrimination differs from rioting where violence ensues into an unorganized and dangerous state.

 Sophomore Courtnee Espinoza said, ”I feel that the BLM protests are completely justified and needed while the capital riots are just idiotic and unnecessary.” 

While many of protesters in DC protested what they believed was a fraudulent ratification of the election results, the motivations of the capitol riots were unclear. Video footage displayed domestic terrorists breaking into a federal building when congress was counting votes to confirm Joe Biden as the president. They infringed on a constitutional right, endangering democracy.

”The Capitol was an act of insurrection and it was white privilege being enacted to its fullest. The BLM protests were justified, but the Capitol Riot was not because it interfered with a government act and it turned viole

nt,” sophomore Erin Matlock said. “The Capitol Riot had more lenient authority because there were cops who took pictures with the rioters as they looted the Capitol. Also there was a late reaction by the authorities. In the BLM protests, police officers already had their gear, tear gas, and rubber bullets on deck. You can’t tell me there was equal treatment from authority.” 

In this image rioters are invading the U.S capitol, fighting police in an attempt to break the barrier. They are holding Trump and American Flags. (AP News)

According to The Guardian, at least 25 Americans were killed during the BLM protests. 

The civil unrest that the country has faced in the last year and start of the new year has tremendously changed history. With the stalk of the pandemic following all Americans as well as businesses and institutions, moving forward seems difficult. Real change needs to happen and injustice needs to be addressed.