Black Atlantans say response to D.C. rioters shows double standard

As Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, many Black Atlantans were dismayed as they watched the events unfold.

The reaction to the mostly white rioters was a far cry from the reaction to largely Black crowds that took to the streets last year in protest of social and racial injustice, they said.

“You can never imagine 10,000 Black people storming the White House and no shots being fired,” said Roderick Sellers, 50, a disabled Navy veteran from DeKalb County. “I am from the military myself so I have a deep respect for the military and government as a whole,” but “It was the same standard as usual.”

Lloyd Pierce, the Atlanta Hawks coach who has been a voice on matters of racial injustice and reform, said the first step in changing the double standard in policing is by acknowledging there is a difference.

“You can’t say that things are going to change if you don’t acknowledge that it’s a problem. And what you’re seeing today is a reminder that there’s a huge difference,” he said. “We all understand that that would have been guns ablaze and fires ablaze right now ... if there were Black people protesting on the outside. We haven’t even mentioned getting inside and tearing up the building.”

Visuals of the scene at the Capitol — broken windows, vandals in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, rioters storming the Senate chamber — circulated on social media and were compared to images from the summer protests of police lining the streets in riot gear.

“It was very obvious who was seen as a threat and who wasn’t,” said Sherri Daye Scott, 43, a writer and producer in metro Atlanta. “It is never really about the American dream, it is about the dream of white supremacy and those are two different things. I hope my more conservative, white, right-leaning friends are ready to see and understand the two things are not the same.”

Gerald Griggs, a social justice activist and attorney in Atlanta has participated in several protests in the city, including some of the social justice marches last summer.

He tweeted about the differences in how police and public officials reacted to those protests versus the events at the Capitol.

During the summer there were elected officials who stood up full-throated and denounced our peaceful protests,” Griggs told the AJC. “Where is the denunciation of this insurrection in our country?” Griggs says he’s talked to some of the young activists who led Atlanta’s summer demonstrations and they feel there is a bias against their peaceful protests.

Sellers said he was greatly saddened watching the country he pledged to serve and protect get to the point that countries we once counseled on how to be calm and peaceful are now counseling us. “We have lost so much credibility as a country,” he said. “This happening at the Capitol? No one thought it would ever go this far.”

Staff writer Sarah K. Spencer contributed to this story.