Police restraint and the Capitol siege

Police restraint and the Capitol siege

Jason McKay

Sunday, January 17, 2021

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The Tiananmen Square mass acre in 1989 in Beijing, China, began as a demonstration for human rights and freedom. It ended with the slaying of about 10,000 people, much of which we watched on live television as the crowd was attacked by their own army.

The Soweto Uprising in apartheid South Africa in 1976 led to a televised massacre of hundreds of people, of which dozens were children. Government cover-ups make the actual number impossible to verify. The persons firing on the crowds were the South African army and police force.

There are several differences between the abovementioned incidents and the attack on the Capitol building in Washington DC, United States of America (USA). The first and most obvious to me is that the crowds at Tiananmen and Soweto were morally correct and in pursuit of freedom. However, the mob at the Capitol was wrong and in support of tyranny.

The second difference is the response of the police. The police in China and South Africa were brutal, combative and hostile. The police in Washington were humane, restrained and responsible.

I am really pleased with the approach of the Capitol police force with respect to their restraint, if not their preparation. I, however, know that if this were a Black Lives Matter protest and the same behaviours were exhibited, dozens would be dead. If this were a Black Panthers demonstration, hundreds would be dead.

This would have been regrettable if it had occurred with a black protest. It would also have been regrettable if it had occurred on the 6th of January.

Police bullets are not there for the purpose of killing dumb, misled hooligans. They are intended for the protection of law enforcement officers and members of the public.

The persons who mobbed the Capitol did everything that would justify the police firing at them. The officers would have been legally and morally correct. If just a few of the protesters had bombs in their knapsacks, they could have destroyed the American Government.

The decision of the police not to take the steps to protect the Government at the expense of their humanity needs to be studied and assessed. The knowledge that this discretion would not have been exercised in a black protest needs to be discussed. If this imbalance is not properly analysed and ventilated, the rift between the races in America will be set back 50 years.

The Kent State shooting occurred at Kent State University in 1970. It was the response of the National Guard to a protest against the Vietnam War. It got out of hand and cruelty was chosen over courage. Four young, misguided people were killed. They were not criminals, gang members, or rapists. They were just students who had no respect for the law and believed that hooliganism trumps order, just like the Capitol mob.

Did you really want to see a replication of this by a factor of a 100? A massacre would have made the hooligans heroes. The law enforcement officers would have been vilified. Trump would have had a moral leg to stand on.

The police action, though dangerous to the Government they secured, was the most heroic I have seen in many years. It would have been far safer for them to turn their guns on the mob. They instead chose hand to hand combat, their voices, their restraint.

There are several issues that now present themselves. The most important to me is that a police officer was killed. The death of the officer was caused, to some degree, by a sitting president.

Is there a law for the offense of causing a riot that leads to death of a law enforcement officer or any innocent person?

If so, why aren't they charging Trump for that?

If it is a criminal act and the crime was committed by a president, why is he being treated differently?

His actions killed a cop. Cops' lives matter. Is the principle that cop killers be caught at any cost only applicable when the perpetrators are poor and unbecoming?

There is also the way forward, the future. What have we learnt?

Well, most obvious is that massive infrastructure needs to be introduced to make it impossible for crowds to get that close to the actual government.

The right to protest needs to be modified. It should only be applicable when protesters are miles away from government buildings and members. This should be enforced by 16-foot walls, not police officers with the likelihood of choosing humanity over security.

This is the country with the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons. They are also our only protection from Europe and Asia. They are the team we are aligned to, and rightfully so.

They stopped European colonisation of the pan-American region. They are still our only protection from future Asian colonisation that is occurring in Africa. Therefore, we need to be concerned about their national security.

Another major consideration is that there is now an existing handbook of how to take down the Government of the USA. What is going to be done in the future to ensure this does not happen again?

I believe that had the police fired, the mob would have returned fire with much greater fire power. The American right wing is significantly armed. This has to be addressed as a genuine security concern.


Well going forward, as I said earlier, access to government members when gathered in numbers needs to end, with immediate effect. Alternate locations to conduct state affairs should be selected. These should include military bases and should not be limited in law to specific buildings.

A study of the right-wing group's issues needs to be conducted and a bridge needs to be established between government and their fears. This is not because they are correct, but because they are too great a force to be ignored. There is precedent as to the result of ignoring significant threats: Nazism in Germany, fascism in Italy, communism in Asia.

There are also success stories of the defeat of popular theories of division. Apartheid in South Africa is a dead movement, despite being a country's identity for decades. This was achieved by sensible discourse and dialogue with the absence of emotion, particularly hate.

Going forward it will be pragmatism, not moralism, that defines our security, not just for America, but for the whole pan-American region.

Feedback: drjasonamckay@gmail.com

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