Gigi Hadid, Cardi B And Gemma Chan Lead Outcry Over Capitol Hill Riot Response Compared With BLM Protests

Olivia Blair
·8-min read
Photo credit: David Ryder - Getty Images
Photo credit: David Ryder - Getty Images

From ELLE

When the world witnessed the US Capitol - the institution where Congress sits to deliberate and pass laws - be violently invaded by far right rioters, many expected this attack on American democracy to met by a heavy hand from the law. Especially considering the response to the numerous Black Lives Matter (BLM) movements we witnessed in 2020, following the death of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, when a white officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes.

But, unsurprisingly to many activists who have devoted their lives to fighting white supremacy and advancing the rights of Black people in the US, the response to the Capitol rioters and BLM protesters was not comparable.

'What if those rioters had been Black?' many asked, suggesting that history tells us Black lives would have been in danger if they had similarly formed groups, defied law enforcement with weapons and violently attacked a national government building.

During last summer's Black Lives Matter resurgence movements, which were staged across the world as a result of the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and the systemic racist structures that allow these devastating instances to have continued for so many years, the rhetoric of lawmakers and the response of law enforcement was vastly different.

President Donald Trump responded to the movements with violent rhetoric - 'when the looting starts, the shooting starts' and referring to protesters as 'criminals' - and the National Guard was deployed along with a heavy police presence which carried and used batons, sprayed activists with tear gas and arrested journalists doing their job and reporting from the scene.

But, on Wednesday, with the Defence Department's first reaction was to refuse the deployment of the guard, according to reports. A police officer even posed for a selfie with a rioter.

Outraging those watching from home - as the majority of those in the US should be given the ever-increasing cases of Coronavirus in the country - some of the strongest responses came on realisation of the vastly different reaction to the riots compared to the BLM protests from the US government and police. It's something the Black Lives Matter campaign highlighted immediately:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) made reference to the outcry from Republicans when civil rights activist and American footballer Colin Kaepernick peacefully 'took a knee' in 2016 and inspired a movement to protest against police brutality compared to the reaction to violence enacted by white supremacists yesterday:

This exchange between a white man on his porch and a Black woman in her car agreeing that the response would be incredibly different if it were Black Lives Matter marches went viral:

Videos of police and government responses to each event were played side by side:

Celebrities with large platforms, from Gigi Hadid and Cardi B to Sophie Turner also shared their thoughts on the hypocrisy with their millions of followers:

Gigi Hadid:

Photo credit: Hailey Bieber - Instagram
Photo credit: Hailey Bieber - Instagram

Sophie Turner:

Photo credit: Instagram
Photo credit: Instagram

Cardi B:

Chris Evans:

Queer Eye's Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness:


ELLE UK cover star Gemma Chan rightfully suggested that the image of an officer posing with a picture of a Trump-supporting rioter in the Capitol was the epitome of white privilege:

Others said the actions displayed yesterday only further the argument for 'defunding' the police, which was a rallying cry during the 2020 movements with activists calling for a cut to law enforcement budget and a diversion of the funds into public and community services.

In essence, people think yesterday's insurrection would have been treated differently had the people storming the Capitol been Black:

The police confirmed that four people had died during the riots at Capitol Hill and 52 people were arrested - some on weapons charges and others for breaking curfew. They added that two pipe bombs were found as well as a Molotov cocktail, Reuters reported. On Thursday, the FBI put out an plea for information which could lead them to 'identify individuals instigating violence in Washington DC'.

Last summer, 500 arrests were made in one day (May 30) during a Los Angeles Black Lives Matter protests and almost 300 people were arrested in one day on June 1 during the DC marches. Experts suggest more than 14,000 people were arrested across 49 states in total, according to the Washington Post.

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