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‘True definition of white privilege,’ Nova Scotia activist says after Capitol chaos

Click to play video: 'Activists, Americans in N.S. condemn chaos at U.S. Capitol' Activists, Americans in N.S. condemn chaos at U.S. Capitol
As Washington works to pick up the pieces after a historic display of alt-right carnage on Capitol Hill, activists and drawing attention to the stark differences in how police handled racial justice movements last summer. Graeme Benjamin reports. – Jan 7, 2021

As Washington continues to pick up the pieces after Wednesday’s act of domestic carnage on Capitol Hill, some activists are highlighting the stark differences in how police handle unrest.

Halifax-based activist Quentrel Provo says the police response to Wednesday’s events compared to the peaceful demonstrations for racial justice this past summer was night and day.

“Police were using tear gas and rubber bullets, and people were getting shot and killed just for wanting equality,” said Provo.

Read more: 4 dead after Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, delaying electoral vote count

The violent siege on the Capitol during the confirmation of president-elect Joe Biden‘s victory left four people dead and resulted in the arrests of at least 52 people. Thousands of people, however, were arrested during the protests that occurred in the wake of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

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“It’s sad,” Provo said. “We just want to be equal. That’s all we ask. To be seen as equal, to be treated equally.

“The cure is not something special. The cure is in the hands of people of privilege.”

Click to play video: 'Video shows extent of damage, disarray inside US Capitol building following riot' Video shows extent of damage, disarray inside US Capitol building following riot
Video shows extent of damage, disarray inside US Capitol building following riot – Jan 7, 2021

Timothy Bryan, an assistant professor of sociology at Dalhousie University, says though the images that came out of Washington on Wednesday were shocking, they shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“We shouldn’t be surprised because many of those who were a part of the mob that attacked the Capitol building said that they were going to do that,” said Bryan.

“We’ve been trapped, I think, in the last number of years into a cycle to refuse to believe things that have been so plain to us. People have said they’re coming to do this, then it happens, then we’re surprised.”

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Read more: Capitol police chief defends response to rioters as lawmakers vow investigation

During the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, protesters were met by police in riot gear and pepper spray, as well as co-operation between National Guard, state and municipal forces. The National Guard did eventually end up showing up at the Capitol, but only hours after it was breached.

“I think what we saw yesterday lays bare what many Black activists and individuals calling for police reform have been noting for decades,” Bryan said. “What we saw there was the intersection of white supremacy with a kind of validation of white grievance politics by law enforcement, and white privilege.”

Click to play video: 'Trump mob storms Capitol Hill, halts Biden confirmation' Trump mob storms Capitol Hill, halts Biden confirmation
Trump mob storms Capitol Hill, halts Biden confirmation – Jan 6, 2021

Both Provo and Bryan say in order to advance the dialogue from where we are today, it’s important to understand the difference between the demonstrations.

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“This is not about freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, differences of opinion — this is violence that we’re dealing with,” Bryan said, in regards to Wednesday’s riot.

“Wednesday really showed what privilege was to the world,” said Provo.

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