Racial Injustice Protesters Punished More Harshly Than Capitol Rioters
By: Alyssa Wilson
The story of how demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd and people who illegally broke into the Capitol during the January 6 insurrection were treated differently is now recorded in court documents.
According to Huffpost, the Associated Press reviewed court documents in more than 300 federal cases relating to protests that came after Floyd’s murder in 220. Dozens of people were charged and convicted of serious crimes, often resulting in jail time. The federal crimes included rioting, arson and conspiracy, with more than 70 defendants being sentenced to an average of 27 months in jail. At least ten people were sentenced to prison terms of five years or more.
On the reverse, the Capitol rioters, many of whom were former President Donald Trump supporters, received more leniency. According to the Associated Press review, at least 19 people sentenced for their involvement in the insurrection received no prison time. Many of the charges they pleaded guilty to, included misdemeanor assault or civil disorder. A single defendant was sentenced to eight months in jail after breaching the U.S. Senate chamber with a Trump flag.
Kent Greenfield, a professor at Boston College Law School, spoke out about the disparities in treatment. He said, “The property damage or accusations of arson and looting from last year, those were serious and they were dealt with seriously, but they weren’t an attack on the very core constitutional processes that we rely on in a democracy, nor were they an attack on the United States Congress.”
This news comes after The Movement for Black Lives released a similar report saying the federal government specifically targeted Black Lives Matter protesters with criminal prosecutions.
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.