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Capitol police criticized after D.C. riots

Posted at 11:07 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 23:07:38-05

CAPE CORAL, FLA — Unprepared and slow to act. Those are some of the main criticisms coming down on U.S. Capitol Police, after Wednesday's riot in D.C.

Some say the police were not ready for the protesters and wonder how that could be possible.

We asked Florida Gulf Coast University professor and former police officer David Thomas.

"Let's start with the fact that they were not prepared," he said, "They underestimated what was going to transpire."

Thomas says on top of that, a glaring difference was seen in how Wednesday's crowds were treated, as opposed to how capitol police responded to demonstrators marching for racial justice last summer.

"Why was there one standard for black folks, through black lives matter, and why was there another standard for white folks?" he said.

One of the lead organizers for several peaceful protests in lee county last summer, Chantel Rhodes, believes the racial makeup of those crowds impacted how they were treated.

"Had that been a black lives matter protest the turnout would have been very different," she said.

There have also been concerns that police were slow to respond because some may have agreed with rioters at the capitol. Thomas says it's possible but adds that officers aren't supposed to act on their personal beliefs.

"They don't have an opinion. Cops don't have opinions. When you think about it, the entire job of law enforcement is to be neutral," he said.

Another local community activist says she witnessed capitol police out in full force during a racial justice rally in D.C. last year. And says was she angered to see their response Wednesday.

"I was shocked I was mortified but I was also not surprised," said Deborah Hopkins.

We asked Hopkins and Rhodes how the country moves forward from what we all witnessed on January 6 and this is what they had to say:

"That's the answer to this. Love is the answer. And that's where it has to start. But then we move to policy and we begin to shape policy so that it is a government by the people, for the people," said Hopkins.

"My message to anyone is to continue to show up, show up raise your voices, raise your concerns to continue to occupy spaces, and advocate for what's right," said Rhodes.

The heat on Capitol for Wednesday's response to protesters is causing some fallout. The New York Times is reporting that the Sergeant in Arms for the House of Representatives has stepped down and there have been calls for his counterpart in the Senate to do the same.

The Associated Press reports that the Chief of the Capitol Police is now planning to resign as well.