The Washington Capitol Police were quickly overwhelmed by circles of rioters on January 6, 2021. -
The warning signs were not lacking, however.
But Wednesday, the Capitol police, ill-prepared and understaffed, were completely overwhelmed by rioters, in what many elected officials described as "insurrection".
Galvanized by the recriminations and encouragement of Donald Trump, thousands of supporters of the American president have swept over this emblem of democracy and sowed chaos for several hours in the face of long-powerless law enforcement agencies.
A stark contrast to the violent repression of the demonstrations of the Black Lives Matters movement after the death of George Floyd last spring.
Difference in preparation
As BuzzFeed points out, this assault on Capitol Hill was not spontaneous.
It has been scheduled online for three weeks.
Donald Trump announced the big meeting on December 19: "Be there, it will be crazy", then he regularly promoted it with the hashtag #StopTheSteal and #SaveAmerica.
Its supporters are organized on the social network Parler, refuge of many figures banned from Twitter, on Telegram messaging and on the TheDonald forum, a site created after the closure of the section of the same name by Reddit.
Last week, some announced their intention, if elected officials refused to oppose the certification of the results, to "surge on the Capitol".
But as the first Trumpists arrive on the west side, the security perimeter is far from being a fortress.
On one video, we see half a dozen police officers behind galvanized mobile barriers.
In less than a minute, two dozen demonstrators break them down, chanting “USA, USA, USA!
The moment it all began.
- Philip Crowther (@PhilipinDC) January 7, 2021
An interrupted flood surges.
Some storm the stairs.
Others climb the wall.
The police are retreating.
Quickly, the crowd forced the entrance doors to the Capitol or broke windows and entered the building.
It was only then that reinforcements arrived and riot control forces began to use tear gas.
We will have to wait more than 3 hours before the arrival of the National Guard - after, according to the
New York Times
, Donald Trump's procrastination.
The situation was very different last summer during the demonstrations of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In Washington, the National Guard had been deployed in a preventive manner on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
And when Donald Trump wanted to go to St. John's Episcopal Church, the police charged to dislodge protesters from Lafayette Square with tear gas and rubber bullets.
The National Guard was deployed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in June 2020. - WIN MCNAMEE
Why such dissonance?
The Capitol Police Chief of Police, a federal force that reports to Congress (not Washington City), explained that he expected "a First Amendment exercise" (on freedom of speech and demonstrate peacefully).
According to AP, the Pentagon had offered the National Guard's help last weekend but the police chief allegedly refused.
Steven Sund, whose head was claimed by Nancy Pelosi, tendered his resignation Thursday night.
Police officials are not the only ones coming under fire.
Videos posted on social media show some police officers fraternizing or taking selfies with protesters.
It also seems that several agents opened a barrier on their own and let in the supporters of the American president, including far-right activists and followers of the Qanon conspiracy movement.
The police opened the gates and simply let the protesters in.
- John Aravosis 🇺🇸🇬🇷🏳️🌈 (@aravosis) January 6, 2021
Asked by NBC News, the former Capitol Police chief Terrance Gainer called the footage "disturbing."
However, he considered it possible that the overwhelmed security forces attempted a "de-escalation" by letting the demonstrators enter.
Michelle Obama outrage
Michelle Obama was outraged at the stark contrast and leniency granted to supporters of Donald Trump.
"The Black Lives Matter protests were mostly peaceful ... And yet city after city, day after day, we have seen peaceful protesters facing brute force," she wrote on social media.
In contrast, those who invaded the Capitol "have desecrated the heart of the American government.
And when the authorities finally regained control of the situation, these rioters and gang members were escorted out of the building, not handcuffed, but free as the air, ”laments the ex-first lady of the United States.
However, a woman was killed by police inside the building.
"No one can make me believe that if it had been a Black Lives Matter protest yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently from the mob of thugs who stormed the Capitol." , thundered Joe Biden.
The historic civil rights organization NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) assured him: “They killed us for less than that!
US presidential election