“This is not the first time that a group of Americans decided that winning an election was more important than maintaining a democracy. In fact, it’s because of those other examples that we know which sociopolitical trends to beware of.
On Nov. 10, 1898, following a municipal election that had installed an integrated city council, white elites from the city of Wilmington, North Carolina mobilized a mob that burned down the town’s Black newspaper, killed hundreds of Black residents and forced the newly elected council members to resign at gunpoint. It was a riot, organized and planned in advance, and aided by people in charge of the government so they could stay in power — pesky electoral outcomes be damned.”
“US Capitol Police were aware of the potential for violence specifically targeting Congress on January 6, at least three days before pro-Trump insurgents overwhelmed USCP officers and stormed the US Capitol, according to a Friday scoop by the Washington Post.
A January 3 memo from the Capitol Police intelligence division, parts of which were obtained by the Post, highlights the threat of violence by supporters of President Donald Trump in striking detail — and only adds to confusion about how the attack occurred anyway.
According to the memo, “supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021” — the day Congress convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory — “as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
“This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent,” the portion of the memo obtained by the Post continues. “Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”
The USCP memo also warned that the presence of “white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.”
“The memo from the Capitol Police’s intelligence division isn’t the only warning law enforcement agencies gave leading up to the violent events of January 6. On January 5 — just one day before the attack — an internal report produced by the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, warned of online calls for “war.””
“Sund was privy to the Capitol Police intelligence assessment ahead of January 6, and he reportedly asked the sergeants at arms for both chambers of Congress to put National Guard forces on emergency standby.
Sund’s request was ultimately denied, and National Guard troops were slow to respond as the attack unfolded, due at least in part to restrictions imposed by the Pentagon, which were first reported by the Washington Post.
In addition to Sund, both sergeants at arms have resigned their positions over the attack.”
“Even before last week’s deadly invasion of the Capitol, McConnell, to his credit, forcefully rejected efforts to challenge duly certified electoral votes for Biden. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” he warned less than an hour before he was forced to flee the president’s enraged fans. “We would never see the whole nation accept an election again,” he added, and “every four years would be a scramble for power at all cost.”
Based on “sweeping conspiracy theories,” McConnell noted, “President Trump claims the election was stolen,” but “nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale…that would have tipped the entire election.” He added that “public doubt alone” cannot “justify a radical break” from historical practice “when the doubt itself was incited without evidence.”
These were strong words, but they came two months too late. From the moment that Trump began insisting that he actually won the election by a landslide, it was clear that the president’s conviction had no basis in reality. Yet McConnell humored Trump, neither backing nor rejecting his wild claims, based on the premise that Biden’s victory should not be conceded until the president had exhausted his legal options and the Electoral College had met. In the meantime, the fantasy underlying last week’s riot grew and spread, unchallenged by all but a few Republican legislators.”
“Even McConnell and Pence are models of bravery compared to Sens. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) and Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), who led the legally groundless objections to Biden’s electoral votes in the Senate. In doing so, they cynically and recklessly reinforced the twin delusions that gave rise to last week’s violence: that Trump won the election and that Biden’s inauguration could still be prevented.
At the same time, neither Cruz nor Hawley had the guts to explicitly endorse those beliefs. They calculated that they could reap the political benefits of kowtowing to the president’s supporters without paying the political cost of looking like kooks. It apparently never entered the minds of these two Ivy League lawyers that they might pay a cost for so blatantly trying to advance their careers by sacrificing their supposed devotion to the Constitution. The crucial question for the Republican Party now is whether they were right to ignore that possibility.”
“Cheney is the highest-ranking Republican to commit to backing impeachment so far. In a scathing statement, she wrote that “the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”
Cheney’s statement continues: “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Not long before Cheney’s statement, Rep. John Katko (NY) became the first elected Republican member of Congress to commit to backing this impeachment. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in his own statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.” A third House Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL), announced his support for impeachment, too.”
“Across law enforcement agencies, many are echoing the same message: that no one anticipated an attack of this kind on Congress and the Capitol”
““You literally couldn’t have had more information,” R.P. Eddy, a counterterrorism expert and CEO of the intelligence firm Ergo, told Vox. But law enforcement agencies, starting with the Capitol Police, didn’t do what was necessary with that information: “The threat assessment, obviously, was a total failure.”
And the reason for that, he and others say, goes back to the inability of law enforcement officials to see Trump supporters — a group of mostly white Americans, some of them law enforcement officers themselves — as a real threat.”
“It’s only become clearer over the past six days that insurrectionists were planning their actions openly in the days leading up to Wednesday’s riot, and that many people had sounded the alarm. Posters in pro-Trump online forums were making plans to “encircle” Congress and “go after the traitors directly” and to “Bring handcuffs and zip ties to DC,” according to the Washington Post. And numerous watchdog groups and private citizens sent warnings to government officials about the threats.
“It’s not so much that the cops weren’t aware of it. It’s almost like they were willfully ignorant of the possibility of violence,” Marc Ginsberg, president of the Coalition for a Safer Web, who personally warned officials of his findings, told the Post. Tensions surrounding brutal police action against protesters this summer also left local and federal officials wary of a large police presence during the planned protest.
Law enforcement officials were preparing for a crowd in the “low thousands,” according to Crow’s call on Sunday with Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy — not the approximately 8,000 people who showed up. They were also prepared for “small, disparate violent events” like stabbings and fistfights, despite numerous social media posts about guns, ammunition, and kidnapping lawmakers. The Capitol Police also had not requested federal support in the days leading up to the riot, and both the Capitol and DC Metropolitan Police Departments had declined offers of additional National Guard backup, McCarthy said.”
“After Bowser and Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund requested federal reinforcements shortly after 1:30 pm on Wednesday, federal officials worked to understand the situation for more than an hour, according to the call with Crow. Their efforts were hamstrung by the lack of an operations center in the Pentagon, forcing them to “manage the situation by tracking down previously unknown contacts of local law enforcement and making ad hoc calls in an office environment,” according to the call summary.
But whatever happened at the Defense Department, responsibility for Wednesday’s events really started with the Capitol Police, Eddy said. “Every event like this has a lead agency,” he explained: “one group who’s responsible, ultimately, for what’s going to happen.” In this case, it was the Capitol Police. They failed to prepare their officers — many of whom were in ordinary uniforms rather than helmets and riot gear — and they failed to prepare in advance for the federal reinforcements they would need, Eddy said. “They obviously failed to understand what the threat was going to be.””
“Many of the rioters had a lot in common with the officials in charge of doing threat assessments in the days and weeks ahead of the riot, he explained: “They probably were very similar in race, probably very similar in income, probably very similar religious beliefs.” That includes a number of rioters who are law enforcement themselves. Departments around the country have suspended officers for their involvement in the riot.
The failure to anticipate the violence of January 6 was a “failure to imagine that folks who look like you, who probably think like you, are going to come do something that’s wildly different than what you’d want to do, and they’re going to try to kill you in the process,” Eddy said.
And it wasn’t just about failure to prepare. While some Capitol Police officers were assaulted by rioters, others appeared to aid or at least do little to stop them, with one officer taking a selfie with a rioter (he has since been suspended, Rep. Tim Ryan confirmed on Monday) and others appearing to move aside barricades to let them get closer to the Capitol.”
““On one hand, different groups of people are deemed a threat when maybe they’re not because they’re peacefully protesting, whereas a group of rioters full of domestic terrorists are not seen as a threat,” Karim said. Addressing that “is going to take transformational change.””
“Instead of National Guard troops being posted en masse around landmarks before a protest even began, we saw the Defense Department initially deny a request to send in troops — and that was after the Capitol had been breached. Instead of peaceful protesters being doused in tear gas, we saw a mob posing for selfies with police and being allowed to wander the corridors of power like they couldn’t decide whether they were invading the Capitol or touring it. Instead of President Trump calling these violent supporters “thugs,” as he called racial justice protesters, and advocating for more violent police crackdowns, we saw him remind his followers that they were loved before asking them nicely to go home.
“It feels really unbelievable,” said Roudabeh Kishi, director of research and innovation with the nonprofit Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project. But, she said, it’s also totally unsurprising.
That’s because the discrepancies we saw Wednesday are just another example of a trend Kishi’s team has been tracking for months as they collect data on protester and law enforcement interactions across America. “We see a different response to the right wing,” she said.”
“in 2020, Kishi’s ACLED — a data-reporting project that began documenting armed conflicts and protests in African nations — extended its work into the United States. Using information gathered from local media, NGOs, individual journalists and partner organizations, ACLED researchers have catalogued months of detailed information about protests, including when clashes with law enforcement have happened and the type of force used by police. “We don’t necessarily have information on the number of Black vs. white protesters … but we do have a larger view,” Kishi said. “How is law enforcement responding to demonstrations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement versus demonstrations by the right wing … in support of [a] president that may or may not involve organized armed illegal groups?””
“Between May 1 and November 28, 2020, authorities were more than twice as likely to attempt to break up and disperse a left-wing protest1 than a right-wing2 one. And in those situations when law enforcement chose to intervene, they were more likely to use force — 34 percent of the time with right-wing protests compared with 51 percent of the time for the left. Given when this data was collected, it predominantly reflects a difference in how police respond to Black Lives Matter, compared with how they respond to anti-mask demonstrations, pro-Trump extremists, QAnon rallies, and militia groups.
The differences in intervention weren’t because BLM protests were particularly violent. ACLED found that 93 percent of the protests associated with BLM were entirely peaceful. “Even if we were to put those  percent of demonstrations aside and look purely at peaceful [BLM protests], we are seeing a more heavy handed response [compared with right-wing protests],” Kishi said.”
“the whiteness of the insurrectionists acted as a shield — protecting them from being seen as a threat before, and while, they stormed the Capitol. For activists who endured violence at the hands of police when they were merely asking for them to stop executing Black people, this inequity is why they protested in the first place.”
“As I reported in September, research from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that out of 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests across 2,400 locations across the country, 93 percent of them were peaceful — yet images of burning and headlines of looting were plentiful, with the president referring to the protesters as “thugs.”
New research from the organization compares the difference in law enforcement response between left-wing protests (anti-Trump, pro-Biden, Count Every Vote, Black Lives Matter, Abolish ICE) and right-wing protests (pro-Trump, anti-Biden, Back the Blue, QAnon, Stop the Steal, etc.), finding that law enforcement was more than twice as likely to use force against liberal demonstrations between May and November.”
“What’s evident is that the organizers of Wednesday’s rallies were not taken seriously, as white extremists are often infantilized and given room to work out their feelings and blow off steam. We are told we need to listen to them, to try to understand their plight and psychology.”
“In the days since the infiltration, footage that Ryan called “disturbing” has emerged of Capitol Police officers standing by while pro-Trump insurrectionists file into the building. Other clips, including one where an officer appears to take a selfie with one of the rioters, have also elicited concern on Capitol Hill.
Additionally, the New York Times reported Thursday that a Capitol Police officer offered rioters directions to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office, while another rioter told CNN, “The cops were very cool. They were like, ‘Hey guys, have a good night.’ … You can see that some of them are on our side.”
Those reports emerge as a growing number of House Democrats express concern about how events unfolded Wednesday. On Friday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told SiriusXM that rioters “went where you won’t find my name, but they found where I was supposed to be,” noting that they found his unmarked office, in which he says he does most of his work, while seeming to pass over his ceremonial one. “So something else was going on untoward here,” Clyburn said.”
“Beyond specific worries about potential internal USCP support for the rioters, some members of Congress have pointed out the jarring disparity in police use of force between Wednesday’s attack and Black Lives Matter protests in DC last summer.”
“Whatever the reason, Democrats appear set on ensuring accountability for this week’s failures by the Capitol Police and other congressional security.
“There was a strategic breakdown, for sure,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday after the siege. “You can bet your ass we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
And there has already been a leadership shakeup. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund submitted his resignation Thursday amid sustained criticism, and after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for him to do so.
The Senate sergeant-at-arms also resigned earlier this week after Schumer said he planned to fire him upon becoming majority leader on January 20. Pelosi, meanwhile, indicated at her weekly Thursday press conference that a resignation from the House sergeant-at-arms would be forthcoming.”