NEW YORK — To watch hundreds of Trump supporters converge on, and then breach the US Capitol building Wednesday was to witness an extraordinary moment in American history.
And to watch a crowd of predominantly white Trump supporters scale walls, break windows, crash the Senate Chamber and — in at least one case, take a selfie with a member of law enforcement — was also a lesson in contrast.
Specifically, the overall difference between how law enforcement responded to this crowd, compared to how law enforcement has responded in the past over the last year to protesters who took to the streets following one high profile police related shooting or death after another.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams spent many nights marching in protests organized by Black Lives Matter and other police reform organizations, protests where police often took a more aggressive approach to clearing the streets, let alone the US Capitol building.
"What if they were Black? What if they were Muslim? What would it have looked like?," wondered Williams.
Williams can't help but notice the contrast between Wednesday and the summer as well.
"A few months ago, the president had tear gas and bullets for people who were non-violent, just protesting, so that he could take a picture by a church."
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a 2021 mayoral candidate and former 22-year NYPD veteran who retired as a captain, says he saw something else: questionable loyalties.
"There should have been a multitude of arrests and I question the actions of the Capitol Police," said Adams. "Did they stand by and allow our capitol to be taken over by rioters? Did we have participation from the police and the rioters that performed this really dangerous action that took place?"
We also thought it appropriate to raise these same questions with members of law enforcement. The NYPD’s largest police union did not respond to our inquiry, but we did hear back from Ed Mullins, Presidents of the Sergeants Benevolent Association. Mullins gave us a statement.
“Today's activities can be contrasted by the fact that there were no fires started, no looting of innocent businesses, no destruction of private property and no city was seized. Only government property was destroyed,” he said, while denouncing the violence and calling the group an "angry, violent mob."
One female Trump supporter was also shot and killed inside the Capitol Building.