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US Capitol riot highlights contrast in police attitudes to black and white protesters, says expert

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Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.   -   Copyright  AP/Jose Luis Magana
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One US Capitol police officer has died of injuries sustained during Wednesday's storming of the building. The head of the force had already announced that he'll resign later this month after facing harsh criticism for failing to control the violent mob - despite knowing about the protest well in advance.

Video footage from the riot shows police officers appearing to open barriers to allow the crowd through and even taking selfies with protesters.

That treatment stands in sharp contrast to how Washington DC prepared for Black Lives Matter protests last summer. Hundreds of National Guard troops were deployed in advance and protesters were subject to rubber bullets, tear gas, and mass arrest - even when they remained peaceful.

Wallace Ford is a professor of Public Administration at Medgar Evers College in New York. He says the police response in Washington DC highlights the disparity between the way Black and White people in the US are treated by law enforcement. And it's not a recent problem. Professor Ford says racism was an issue focused upon by French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville in the 19th century.

"What we're seeing today is a need for a literal change of mind. A change in the way people are treated, a change in the attitude of this country when it comes to Black people. And we're still not there yet."

Video editor • Amin Guidara