PITTSBURGH — The leaders of the Pennsylvania National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Pittsburgh Black Lives Matter say the protest at the U.S. Capitol would have ended differently if the people involved were not white.
“We people of color couldn’t have went to bed and dreamt about doing at the capitol what was done and what we witnessed this afternoon,” said Kenneth Huston, president of the Pennsylvania NAACP.
Huston referenced how law enforcement tear gassed and forcibly removed protesters in Washington so President Donald Trump could pose with a bible in front of a church for a photograph. Huston also said law enforcement has used force on protesters to protect federal buildings out west. He noted how officers met Black Lives Matter protesters in Pittsburgh and across the nation in full riot gear during the summer protests.
“This country must wrestle with the fact that it does not treat Black or brown people the way it treats their white counterparts and that’s just the reality of it,” Huston said.
“You can’t look at the response not only nationally but even on social media between the way BLM protesters are treated and the way Trump supporters are treated,” said Tanisha Long, the founder of Black Lives Matter Pittsburgh.
Long said those in her group were called thugs and rioters because they were fighting against police brutality while marching in the streets. She said people who climbed the Capitol walls and took over the Senate chamber are being called patriotic by some.
“We would be dead to be clear. If any of us fist fought a police officer during a protest, we would be dead,” Long said.
She did acknowledge that some bad actors not involved with her movement have shown up to rallies, such as when rioting and looting took over Downtown Pittsburgh, police officers and media members were attacked and police vehicles were set on fire. She went on to question what she called clear disparities between what happened Wednesday in the nation’s capital and previous rallies there. Some people on social media questioned what the event demonstrated about how far police will allow some to go while protesting.