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Will federal cops give Capitol attackers a free pass?

FBI and Department of Justice officials are currently considering whether or not to let a big section of the mob that attacked the Capitol Building on Jan 6 off the hook. Despite the participation of thousands in the assault, including approximately 800 who authorities say rampaged inside the building itself, law enforcement has only charged 135 people so far. 

Recent reports, which first appeared in a Washington Post article, cite officials who use the excuse that charging the attackers to the fullest extent will overwhelm local courts. The overwhelming majority of members of the mob, many of whom have links to fascist groups like the Proud Boys or Oath Keepers, remain at large and a severe threat to public safety. Authorities are fully aware that the pro-Trump crowd includes many people who had stated their intent to capture and assassinate government officials or commit other acts of terroristic violence. 

Authorities showed no such restraint and consideration when cracking down on anti-racist protesters last year following the murder of George Floyd. Police across the country made over 14,000 arrests during just the first month of the uprising. 

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, co-founder of the Partnership of the Civil Justice Fund and the Center for Protest Law and Litigation, told Liberation News, “Participants in the violent white supremacist mob are being afforded exceptional prosecutorial generosity. While we don’t support the existence of the federal riot law, its definition fits squarely to those that stormed the Capitol as do numerous other federal criminal charges available.” 

Various criminal activities were caught on video footage by participants and bystanders, which included property destruction, grand theft and assault on law enforcement officers among others. Court documents filed earlier this month also show that militia members pre-planned this action, and communicated in real time during the breach while they attempted to hunt down lawmakers.

Verheyden-Hilliard further notes, “From the first day of the Trump administration when more than 200 anti-Trump protestors, and journalists, were subject to mass false arrest and charged with felony riot and conspiracy, to this past summer when hundreds of racial justice protesters were charged with federal charges across the country, the U.S. government prosecutors have not shown any similar qualms. This is a back-end reflection of the same kid gloves approach we saw on the front end, that allowed this attack to happen in the first place.”

And beyond those who were caught on video on the front lines of the Capitol attack, there is still a massive open question about what will be done with Trump himself, who clearly incited the mob. There is no need to wait for impeachment, Trump and high-level co-conspirators who ensured the Capitol would be lightly guarded could be arrested right now. 

The massive uprisings of last summer revealed law enforcement’s capacity for mass arrests and targeted harassment against peaceful progressive protesters. Instead of cracking down on a violent fascistic mob that stormed and wrecked the Capitol building, Department of Justice officials are debating whether or not to let the bulk of them off the hook. Clearly the federal government does not consider facism and white supremacy to be a threat on the same level as those who demand that all people enjoy a life with dignity.

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