One day after pro-Trump rioters wreaked havoc at the U.S. Capitol building, activists are pointing out how the handling of rioters represents racial inequality.
“A lot of people that are watching and a lot of us that have seen the brutality at the hands of police and witnessed it, are very much disturbed by what happened in the States,” said Former Grand Chief Sheila North.
On Wednesday, a pro-Trump mob stormed and broke into the Capitol building in Washington. The riot resulted in the death of four people, and at least 52 people were arrested.
North said the scenes in Washington were “very disturbing, but not surprising to see.”
“You would think that you’ve seen it all when you see the past three years, four years with Donald Trump in the news like that,” North said.
Then you see something like that and it’s shocking, but yet, it’s not.”
She said people were anticipating this kind of violence right after the U.S. election when Joe Biden was declared President-elect of the United States, but instead, it happened as the process to certify Biden was taking place.
“You see the violence and you see the actions by these rioters who think that they have the right of way of everything,” North said.
What many activists are pointing out, however, is how police handled these mostly white rioters, saying it starkly contrasted to the actions of law enforcement at the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests that took place last year.
The hashtag #whiteprivilege began to trend on Twitter during Wednesday’s riots, with many people pointing out the apparent lack of officers in riot gear, and lack of use of tear gas and military-style vehicles. These were all measures taken by law enforcement during the anti-black racism protests.
North said she wishes she could say this was shocking.
She noted that it’s disturbing to see the difference in law enforcement’s reaction to Black and Indigenous people, compared to White people during these times of protest.
North said without question, the riots would have been handled differently if the rioters were Black or Indigenous.
“You wouldn’t see people climbing up those walls, you wouldn’t see people busting those windows, you wouldn’t see people rioting, walking through those halls the way they did,” she said.
“The army would’ve been brought in. We saw that in one of those Black Lives Matter rallies.”
North added that though things may be a little bit better in Canada, they are not far off either.
“We’ve seen and felt the aggression by police against Indigenous people and Black people here, and not as much towards white people, who act maybe even worse in certain situations,” she said.
North said it’s clear that racial issues and racial division are still very much problems on both sides of the border.
- With files from CTV’s Nicole Dube and Jeremiah Rodriguez.