As the nation reckons with the immediate aftermath of the US Capitol breach by Donald Trump supporters, Black police officers within the department are bringing the racism they’ve long known existed to light.
Since 2001, more than 250 Black US Capitol police officers have sued the department over allegations of racism from their colleagues. Some of the lawsuits state white officers repeatedly called Black officers the N-word. One Black officer alleges he had a noose hung in his locker, and another alleged a white officer said, “Obama monkey, go back to Africa.”
Former Capitol Hill Police Chief Kim Dine took office in 2012, saw the lawsuits and worked to address the department’s racism.
According to a report by ProPublica, Dine took measures to increase diversity by changing agency hiring practices, hiring a Black woman woman to lead a diversity office and promoted a Black officer to assistant chief.
Dine, who left the department in 2016 said, “There is a problem with racism in this country, in pretty much every establishment that exists.” “You can always do more in retrospect,” he added.
Two officers have already been suspended for their actions on January 6, the day of the unprecedented Capitol breach. Several remain under investigation.
Two Black officers told Buzzfeed News that department leadership left them completely unprepared to handle the mob that stormed the building.
One of the officers told the news outlet a friend showed him an Instagram post from the extremist Proud Boys group that announced they would be storming the Capitol, yet, leadership told them to prepare for the mob as they would for any other protest.
The officers also said they were called the N-Word by Trump supporters, and were left to fend off the mob without proper equipment, including gas masks that superiors didn’t tell them to bring the day of the attack.
Retired Capitol Police officer T. “Butch” Jones has spoken to multiple news outlets, sharing his dismay at the attack, and clear lack of preparations on behalf of Capitol Hill Police.
In his 37 years of service, Officer Jones recalled the intense prep that was done if Black leaders made trips to the nation’s capital, a huge contrast to what was seen last week.
Black officers who braved the mob during the insurrection described the group as “heavily trained.”
“That was a heavily trained group of militia terrorists that attacked us,” the officer told BuzzFeed. “They had radios, we found them, they had two-way communicators and earpieces. They had bear spray. They had flash bangs… They were prepared.”
Dozens arrests have been made in the attack, though authorities say their investigation is far from over.
The experiences of the Black officers underscores the magnitude of the Capitol Hill Police failings and justifies the wide scope authorities are using to investigate this deadly incident.
Photo: Getty Images