When a mob of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol building last week, almost nobody was immediately arrested.
Watching events play out live, many commented on the people who laid siege to the halls of Congress casually strolling through the building then walking out the door when they were done.
The mostly White group stormed the Capitol grounds with Confederate flags, Trump flags and symbols of the neo-Nazi movement, White supremacy and White nationalism and the trappings of QAnon fanatacism.
The Trump supporters overran Capitol policemen. They broke windows and doors and wandered throughout the building vandalizing offices and stealing. They breached the Senate chamber and attempted to breach the House chamber leading to one rioter being shot.
The building was mostly empty because Senators, Representatives and staff were evacuated or sheltered in locations away from rioters. Then after their violent entry, most rioters simply walked back out of the building to join the crowds of Trump supporters outside.
In the area surrounding the Capitol building, rioters trashed media equipment, attacked police and members of the press and erected a wooden gallows.
The assault on the Capitol lead to five deaths, including the death of a Capitol police officer. It was later cited as the catalyst for the death of a second officer.
Although several arrests have been made in the days following the riot, people have wondered just how different police response would have been if the violent rioters were not mostly White.
To demonstrate that point, many highlighted a video which captured the 2017 arrest of Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, a Black man and longtime activist for civil rights. On January 5, 2021, Democrat Warnock defeated incumbent Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler in the Georgia Senate run-off.
But in 2017, Warnock was arrested for praying in the Capitol building.
In 2017, Senator-Elect Raphael Warnock was arrested in the Capitol rotunda for *praying* in opposition to the GOP’… https://t.co/lnxYNX2xva— Nick Knudsen (@Nick Knudsen)1610085465.0
That clip, broadcast on The Rachel Maddow Show, illustrated how on July 18, 2017, Warnock was arrested after he gathered with other religious leaders to kneel and pray in the Capitol building's rotunda.
According to Newsweek, their prayer was meant to demonstrate their opposition to a budget proposal that would disproportionately hurt Black communities.
At the time, Warnock made his stance very clear.
"As a pastor, I believe the national budget is not just a fiscal document but a moral document. It reflects what we believe and who we are for one another."
"And if this mean spirited budget were an EKG, it would indicate that America has a heart condition."
"The government is taking student aid, job training and medicine from those who need it most in order to give a tax cut to those who need it least. We came to Washington as voices of healing and justice."
"America is better than this. That's our message. And when I consider those who will suffer, my getting arrested is a small price to pay."
People who saw the video on Reddit and Twitter remarked on the distinct difference in treatment between Warnock and the Capitol rioters.
"Amazing the swagger the Capitol police show here when I've seen numerous video clips of them shi**ing their pants yesterday." -- PaperLioness
"More police for that prayer circle than there were guarding the barricades." -- SeryuV
"Black people praying:"
"Police: 'YOU ARE IN VIOLATION OF THE LAW, MOVE OR YOU WILL BE ARRESTED'"
"Trump supporters literally storming the capital:"
"Police: 'Well right this way folks! Have fun!'" -- Thoraxe123
@NickKnudsenUS @MeidasTouch They let that mob walk out with their backpacks stuffed full of god knows what from cap… https://t.co/Cclj4cx6zt— porter981 (@porter981)1610086666.0
But as fate would have it, Warnock will now have access to the building as an elected member of the United States Senate.
Other examples of bias were shared as well, such as Indigenous people arrested for singing. In 2014, activist Greg Grey Cloud was granted a ticket allowing him to sit in the Senate gallery, but when he began to sing an honor song to celebrate a key pipeline vote he was arrested.
He reflected on the differences in treatment with Indian Country Today.
Greg Grey Cloud was removed from the Senate gallery and arrested in 2014 after singing a traditional song of peace.… https://t.co/d5tcFr9gm3— Indian Country Today (@Indian Country Today)1610229102.0
Others were also arrested during peaceful protests at the Capitol and at congressional offices.
Nothing was stolen or vandalized during their time in the buildings.
Indigenous Alaskans and their supporters being arrested outside @SenDanSullivan office. They continue to sing, and… https://t.co/lMHbQySY9m— Collective Agency (@Collective Agency)1537892070.0
The law enforcement presence in Washington DC—especially at the Capitol—for Trump's Save America rally versus the militarzed presence for BLM protests was another stark contrast people noted.
BLM vs Capitol protests: This was the police response when it was Black protesters on DC streets last year https://t.co/9Mc2u2wuMB— Darrell Patan (@Darrell Patan)1610380787.0
People are calling on elected officials to investigate the Capitol riot to account for such discrepancies.
No formal congressional investigation has been announced at this time. Capitol police announced two suspensions and eight investigations underway.
The Chief of the Capitol police resigned after the riot. Between 10 and 17 officers are under investigation according to CNN.