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Law enforcement accused of having double standard during Capitol attack, BLM protests

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MADISON (WKOW) -- One thing that stood out to many people watching Wednesday's insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was how the rioters were treated -- a stark difference to how Black Lives Matter protesters were treated over the summer.

At one point on Wednesday, police allowed members of the crowd through a barricade outside the Capitol.

President-elect Joe Biden called the entire response a failure to carry out equal justice.

"No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, there wouldn't have been -- they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol," he said Thursday. "We all know that's true, and it's unacceptable. Totally unacceptable."

Biden said his granddaughter sent him a picture Wednesday from the summer of officers in full military gear at the Lincoln Memorial because of a Black Lives Matter protest. Her text said, "This isn't fair."

Those are sentiments not lost on activists in Madison.

"They wouldn't have made it to the steps," said Alex Booker with Madison's Urban Triage, talking about if the protesters Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol were in support of Black Lives Matter instead of President Trump.

Booker says during protests over the summer -- including those in Madison -- officers were quick to fire tear gas and start making arrests.

In a statement, Madison Police said:

"Last year, MPD policed more than 180 consecutive days of protest activity.  Only a handful involved violence or property damage requiring police intervention; on a daily basis MPD officers facilitated protest activity (even activity that included civil disobedience). As our core values indicate, we believe in the dignity of all people and respect individual and constitutional rights of all people."

Booker says, however, it was not a situation unique to any one location where Black Lives Matter protests occurred.

"We've had many, many, many protests over the summer," he said. "And if you look over them across the nation, they kind of played out very similarly."

But Booker says officers were not as quick to use force Wednesday.

One person was shot and killed by police inside the Capitol, but Booker says it would have been many more had the protesters been associated with a different group.

"I believe more lives would have been lost -- not just if there was more Black people, but if it was for the cause of Black Lives Matter," he said.

Booker blames the failure to protect the Capitol on law enforcement, who he believes were far more sympathetic toward the mostly white, Pro-Trump crowds.

Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer noticed some differences Wednesday compared to over the summer, as well.

"I think it's undeniable that the security measures that were in place at the U.S. Capitol paled in comparison to those that were in place last summer in Washington, D.C. when there were protests following the death of George Floyd," Palmer said.

He says a full and transparent investigation of why there were so few law enforcement officers and how quickly and easily they were overrun needs to happen now.

"We cannot allow, in the law enforcement community in our country, the perception that the law enforcement presence is going to be one way depending on the objectives, or the nature, or the subject matter of the free speech being expressed," he said.

Booker says Wednesday proved that police are capable of the restraint necessary to avoid brutality.

"They know how to deal with aggression and violence without shooting anyone," he said. "They've always known how to. They pick and choose who they're going to do that with."

Booker says the answer lies not in different training for police officers, or anything like that -- he says it's deeper.

"The white people who said that they're allies or co-conspirators, it's in their court," he said. "It's up to them to hold their family members or their coworkers... those are the people that they need to be checking and need to be talking to and opening those conversations on, because honestly those people are not going to be listening to me."

Andrew Merica

Reporter/Producer, 27 News

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