Law enforcement officers would’ve responded differently to the January 6, 2021 riots at the U.S. Capitol if the rioters had been predominantly Black, House Sergeant-at-Arms William Walker told the congressional January 6 panel in recently unearthed testimony.
“I’m African-American. Child of the Sixties. I think it would have been a vastly different response if those were African Americans trying to breach the Capitol,” Walker told the panel in his April testimony.
“You know, as a law enforcement officer, there were — I saw enough to where I would have probably been using deadly force,” he said. “I think it would have been more bloodshed if the composition would have been different.”
The rioters that day were predominantly white and not only was there a stunning lack of law enforcement and military officials protecting the Capitol, but the officials who were present largely played defensive roles and even, in some cases, allowed rioters access to the building, standing by while they ransacked the place (largely to protect themselves from mob violence).
In his testimony, Walker compared the police response to the white Capitol rioters to police response to Black racial justice protesters following the police murder of Black Minneapolis resident George Floyd. In the latter case, police used tear gas, less lethal munitions (like bean bag rounds), made arrests, and took sometimes actions which escalated the protests into uprisings.
Walker also said that the lack of law enforcement officers was surprising because anyone could have predicted that the congressional certification of then-President-elect Joe Biden’s victory was going to be chaotic, especially since Trump and his followers had planned to converge on the Capitol under false pretenses of voter fraud.
“I’m an intelligence officer … to me, the intelligence was there that this was going to be a big deal,” he said. “You don’t need intelligence. I mean, everybody knew that people were directed to come there by the president.”
NBC News notes, “The D.C. National Guard was not authorized to assist at the Capitol on Jan. 6 until after a delay of 3 hours and 19 minutes that the House committee’s report pins on a ‘likely miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense.’”