Warning: Graphic images of police violence below.
Photo credit: IMAGE: JOSEPH PREZIOSO/ AFP
IMAGE: SAUL LOEB / AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES1/6/2021
Win McNamee, Getty Images
Win McNamee, Getty Images
Armed standoff in House chamber Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Arkansas Trump supporter in Speaker Pelosi’s office Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Photo credit JOSE LUIS MAGANA/AP

Here are 11 examples to highlight how police selectively enforce the law to uphold white supremacy.

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Senate convened to certify the results of the electoral college in the 2020 presidential election. That’s a structurally racist government institution certifying the results of a racist voting system — and yet white supremacists still weren’t happy. Thanks to the tireless organizing of people of color across the United States, so many marginalized people voted within this broken system that we were able to wrest power from Donald Trump and the GOP and deliver a Democratic trifecta of the Senate, House, and presidency for the first time since the 2008 elections.

But every movement witnesses a countermovement. At the urgings of their lame-duck president Donald Trump, white supremacists stormed the Capitol Building. And the police stepped aside, opened up the barricades, and let them gallivant around the halls of power.

Republican leaders have been stoking this violent instinct in their base since long before the 2020 election. Trump himself would not condemn white supremacy when given the chance. In fact, he asked white supremacists and extremists to “stand back and stand by,” and celebrated the Capitol-stormers of January 6 as “special people.” While he’s far from the only politician who wouldn’t condemn racism, his powerful position and cult of personality made his omissions all the more glaring — and dangerous. After all, the people to which he spoke did exactly what he asked; they stood back, stood by, and acted when the opportunity came.

The Capitol police have claimed that they were not prepared for the day’s events. But to claim that the police were not prepared is itself an admission that threats from white people are not considered threats. As our hub member Richard Raya wrote this summer, the police are a pollutant that exist to protect property and the people in power. The police will never side against white supremacists, because that would upset the status quo that gives them their power and influence. We cannot expect one white supremacist institution to properly punish another.

We should be celebrating that Georgia just elected their first Black senator and a young Jewish senator, two Democrats that flipped the Senate into Democratic control for the first time in 6 years. Instead, a bunch of white supremacists demanded all of the nation’s attention with a violent fit of rage.
And while it is horrible to witness, we think it’s important not to look away from the underbelly of how power operates in American society. Today’s events on Capitol Hill are part of a long history of police working as agents of white supremacy in the United States, and so we’ve gathered examples below as a reminder of how the law is selectively and discriminately enforced in this country — and then finally, three ways to get involved in fighting white supremacy.

  1. Police on the steps of Capitol Hill during Black Lives Matter — https://mashable.com/article/capitol-police-trump-riot-black-lives-matter-protest/
January 14, 2020. Photo courtesyof @EastBayMajority

2. Moms 4 Housing
https://invisiblepeople.tv/military-force-used-to-evict-moms-4-housing-from-vacant-oakland-home/

Standing rock photo credit REUTERS/STEPHANIE KEITH
11/22/16

3. Standing Rock
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/29/standing-rock-protest-north-dakota-shutdown-evacuation

Image: UC Davis officer pepper spraying student protestors 11/18/2011 Courtesy of Jasna Hodzic

4. UC Davis
https://www.google.com/search?q=uc+davis+pepper+spray&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjB2_P38IjuAhVPHzQIHQPVD8MQ_AUoAnoECAcQBA&biw=1163&bih=505&dpr=1.65#imgrc=_bQ2_Qz8ZgOgtM

Police arrest protesters who refused to disperse near City Hall in Oakland, California early November 3, 2011. A general strike called by Occupy Oakland shut down the port 11/2. UPI/Elijah Nouvelage
Police arrest protesters who refused to disperse near City Hall in Oakland, California early November 3, 2011. A general strike called by Occupy Oakland shut down the port 11/2. UPI/Elijah Nouvelage

5. Occupy Oakland
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jul/03/occupy-oakland-protesters-1m-police

6. Stonewall Uprisings
https://hankeringforhistory.com/new-yorks-stonewall-riots-catalyst-change/

7. COLA Wildcat Strikes at UCSC
https://www.eastbaytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/STC-L-nistrike-0213-01_72566620.jpg?w=620

8. Ferguson protests — https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/Police_sharpshooter_at_Ferguson_protests.jpg
https://www.hrw.org/tag/ferguson

9. M4A protesters in 2017 — dragged out of their wheelchairs
https://twitter.com/NBCNews/status/877923923958038528

John Lewis beaten on Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama on March 7, 1965 Photo Credit: AP

10. Civil Rights movement
— The children’s crusade: when kids skipped school to protest, were arrested/jailed, sent dogs out on them: https://nmaahc.si.edu/blog/childrens-crusade https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-children-who-marched-into-civil-rights-history/ https://www.history.com/news/childrens-crusade-birmingham-civil-rights
— Civil rights workers murders: https://mscivilrightsproject.org/neshoba/event-neshoba/the-murder-of-chaney-goodman-and-schwerner/
— Bloody Sunday: https://www.history.com/news/selma-bloody-sunday-attack-civil-rights-movement

11. MOVE Bombing
https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/8/8/20747198/philadelphia-bombing-1985-move

Does this make you angry? Here’s what you can do!

  1. Join your local Defund the Police/Abolish the Police movement.
  2. Find a local organization in your area fighting for an end to white supremacy.
  3. If you’re white, check out the 5 Methods for ending white supremacy from the Community Ready Corps: education, organization, contribution (not control), intervention, and divestment.

We’re the Bay Area hub of Sunrise Movement — building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.