COLBERT COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - Over the summer demonstrations for Black Lives Matter spread across the nation including right here in the Tennessee Valley.
In Huntsville, protestors were met with riot gear, pepper spray and tear gas from officers.
In Florence they were met with counter-protestors.
When Camille Bennett, Executive Director of Project Say Something, saw videos of pro-Trump rioters storming the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday she said, to her, the disparity was clear between this riot and Black Lives Matter protests that happened over the summer.
“It comes down to the criminalization of Black people and Black bodies organizing for any reason. There’s always an over reaction. It also speaks to a broken law enforcement system that was really founded on Black people need to be policed so when you put those two together you see what happened yesterday,” said Bennett.
Colbert County GOP Chairman Phil Green called the police response in Washington, D.C. a complete debacle.
“What was shocking was the lack of the response by the police force that is most experienced in crowd control in our entire nation,” said Green.
Green also said leaders did not react to the Capitol violence the same way they reacted to protests over the summer.
“We sat and watched police precincts and private businesses burn to the ground and people like Joe Biden stayed silent and now we see the day of the event when folks crash into the Capitol and take some selfies of themselves with their boots on Nancy Pelosi’s desk and they are going to make their statements and strongly condemn those things, which they should, but it would be nice if they would treat all of the offenders on both sides of the political spectrum in a similar way,” said Green.
The United States Capitol Police Chief released a statement regarding the riots saying the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any he has ever experienced in his 30 years in law enforcement in Washington, D.C. and that officers and their law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent, riotous actions.
The scene at the Capitol hit close to home for Black leaders like NAACP President, Tori Bailey, who watched police responses unfold against protests this summer only to see pro-Trump rioters in Washington push past police and storm the highest levels of government.
“There is no way Black folks would have made it quite that far. We wouldn’t have been allowed to. We would have been arrested yes. We would have been killed,” said Bailey.
Bailey said in order to move forward people need to be held accountable and people need to work together
“Maybe yesterday will finally be the wake-up call so that we can began to heal our country,” said Bailey.