President-elect Joe Biden pulled no punches Thursday when he spoke about the Trump supporters that rioted, looted and ransacked the U.S. Capitol a day earlier.
The Delaware Democrat spoke of his granddaughter sending him a photo of armed security guards and law enforcement standing at the Lincoln Memorial during a Black Lives Matter protest last year.
“She said, ‘Pop, this isn’t fair. No one can tell me if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they would not have been treated very, very different than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,’” Biden said. “We all know that it is true. And it is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable.”
Black Lives Matter officials had earlier made the same observation. In news interviews following the Capitol’s chaotic scene, Toni Sanders of Black Lives Matter called the treatment of the pro-Trump rioters a double standard.
Sanders and others noted how some of the Capitol officers opened gates and let the rallygoers into the immediate area outside the building’s doors. Some officers were seen taking selfies with protesters.
“I am enraged by the light treatment that these terrorists are getting,” Sanders said. “They have guns. They have attacked the police. They have attacked innocent people who are just in the area, and yet they have not been beaten and tear-gassed and had flash-bangs thrown at them the way we had all summer long. We didn’t have any weapons. All we had were our voices saying, ‘Black lives matter.’”
Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, an outspoken voice last summer during the racial unrest surrounding the death of George Floyd, concurred.
“I will say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to,” Rivers said in a statement Wednesday. “Can you imagine today, if those were all Black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened? That, to me, is a picture that is worth a thousand words for all of us to see.”
Biden also implored media members to not label the crowd at the Capitol as “protesters.”
“They weren’t protesters. Don’t dare call them protesters,” the president-elect stated. “They were a riotous mob, insurrectionists, domestic terrorists.”
His remarks came after federal and local law enforcement announced four deaths and dozens of arrests and injuries resulted from the riot.
Among the pro-Trump group was Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35, who was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer near the House chamber where members of Congress were forced to shelter in place.
Three others — two men and one woman — died from medical issues. Authorities have not issued a cause of death for those individuals.
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee 56 of his officers were injured, including one officer who was “snatched into a crowd where he was beaten and tased repeatedly.”
D.C. police recorded at least 70 arrests, and city police posted photos of rioters on its website offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest of anyone involved in the riot.
Capitol Police arrested 14 people, including two individuals charged with carrying a pistol without a license. Two others were charged with assaulting a police officer.
Officials announced they would build a large, non-scalable fence around the Capitol.
While more National Guard units were deployed, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said she wanted jurisdiction over the Guard.
“This was textbook terrorism,” Bowser said at a news conference Thursday. “The current president must be held accountable for this unprecedented attack on our democracy. What happened yesterday is what he wanted to happen, and we must not underestimate the damage he can do to our nation and our democracy over the next two weeks.”
In a statement, Capitol Police called the demonstrators “riotous” and “violent.”
“The extremists attacked police with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers,” the statement read.