The insurrection in Washington D.C. Wednesday has raised questions about how police reacted to the crowd that stormed the U.S. Capitol, with some critiquing law enforcement’s response as a double standard of justice. At issue is the question if rioters were Black, or of color, would the police have handled their response differently?
The answer is yes, according to the President of Brazoria County NAACP Eugene Howard.
“If they were if a different ideology if they were of a different pigmentation, would the tolerance have been there?” he said.
Howard raised the question Thursday during a forum hosted by the Texas NAACP on day one of its statewide convention, which is being held virtually. The forum, which was scheduled before Wednesday’s riot, discussed the organization’s Change the World Texas Restorative Criminal Justice Plan, a 26-point policing reform plan following the killing of George Floyd.
“The plan covers every aspect of what we have to do to build a foundation,” said Nelson Linder, the president of NAACP Austin.
Linder, Howard, and other leaders from Texas NAACP compared law enforcement’s response Wednesday to how it handled Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer. Police fired flash grenades and tear gas at demonstrators. They also cited video from those protests, which showed a much stronger police presence with officers in riot gear forming lines before protesters.
“You’ve got a white supremacist group coming in there as if they own the place and police are like, ‘oh, okay, cool.’ That kind of behavior affects the entire country,” Linder continued.
Thursday’s forum on policing reform included a conversation with Assistant Chief Chad Randall from the Pearland Police Department, the first law enforcement agency in the state to adopt the NAACP’s policing reform plan.
“Yesterday was a tragic sad day in our nation and from the perspective of law enforcement it was a tragedy,” Randall said.
Assistant Chief Randall would not comment, specifically, on law enforcement’s response Wednesday but said police departments nationwide need to become more transparent with the people they represent.
“I think a big part of my response to you is trust,” Randall said, in response to a question raised by Howard.
“I think that without trust, we’re not getting anywhere. If we look at our circles of influence, they’re tightest in our own communities, in our own areas, and so I think that focus is community-driven, [that’s where] you can begin to build that trust,” he continued.
Howard said a lack of trust further deepens the double standard that played out at the nation’s capital. He said reform plans like the Texas NAACP’s help to fix that.
“It’s about how we can work together. It’s about how we can hold you accountable but at the same time put measures into where you can see that it’s a partnership and our community can heal,” Howard said.