BLM Protests vs Capitol Riot: Why we react to protest images differently

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — From smashing the windows of the People’s House to rioters taking over the senate chambers, those images evoke very different emotional reactions.

“We have to have peace so go home. We love you. You’re very special,” said President Donald Trump. “Let me be very clear, the scenes of chaos at the capitol do not reflect a true America,” said President-Elect Joe Biden.

But why are these reactions so different?

“As Americans, we have been customized, socialized to treat violence differently based upon the body that it’s attached to,” said Dr. Duane Loynes, Sr., an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Africana Studies at Rhodes College.

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During a Zoom interview, FOX13 showed him various side by side images of Wednesday’s U.S. Capitol riot compared Black Lives Matter demonstrations like former NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality compared to rioters waving Trump 2020 flags in the Capitol.

“We understand there is something underneath the surface when we say we don’t like violence, but we want peaceful protests but when black people engage in peaceful protest we react violently to it,” said Dr. Loynes. “When we say things like it’s wrong to disrupt, vandalize, and destroy public property, federal property but then we engage in destroying the Capitol something else is working underneath the surface that we’re not attending to.”

Additionally, Dr. Loynes said these images represent different messages.

“When you talk about a Black Lives Matter protest or a protest against racial injustice…they are protesting morally. They are saying this is an unjust situation and we are protesting against it,” he said. “What you had yesterday was not a response to make America better. Certainly, the cause was not moral. It was really based upon a fantasy. This fantasy that Donald Trump was unjustly deprived the presidency even though almost 60 cases, challenges have resulted in zero successes.”

Additionally, Dr. Loynes said there is a history of anticipating violence during demonstrations related to Black Lives Matter or social injustice. He said that’s why the National Guard was called in before BLM protests outside the Lincoln Memorial last summer.