The Department of Justice Association of Black Attorneys (DOJABA) issued the following statement on January 15, 2021. DOJ Pride stands with DOJABA in condemning the violent and deadly insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, and calling attention to the disparity between the federal response to that attack and the overwhelmingly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests throughout D.C. last summer.
DOJABA Statement on the Events at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021
On January 6, 2021, the United States Congress met to carry out one of its most solemn duties: certifying the free and fair democratic election of an American President. The United States Capitol (“Capitol”) was instead, desecrated by a mob seeking to subvert the will of the voters.
The Department of Justice Association of Black Attorneys (“DOJABA”) denounces the violent attack on the Capitol. As Black attorneys at the largest law enforcement agency in our country, we have sworn oaths to protect and defend the Constitution. We are also charged under the Department’s mission to enforce the law, ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic, provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime, seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior, and ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans. As such, we condemn the attack as undemocratic, criminal, and unconstitutional. We pledge to fulfill our duty to hold those involved with the attack accountable under the law.
DOJABA’s mission statement requires that we “bring to the attention of the Attorney General or other appropriate officials . . . practices and/or policies that may be inconsistent with the objectives of [the Department].” Specifically, we call on the Department’s leadership to review the policies and practices in place that resulted in the clear disparity in treatment of the rioters at the Capitol last week and the largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors last summer. The entire world witnessed the forcible breaking and smashing of windows, the violence against law enforcement, the violence against the press, the desecration and ransacking of Congressional members’ offices, and the vandalism and defacing of property inside the Capitol last week. In real time, we saw the rioters waving Confederate flags and brandishing other symbols of white supremacy as they looted their way through the halls of the cornerstone of our democracy. Law enforcement appeared to exercise immense self-restraint toward the overwhelmingly violent white mob attacking the Capitol, but teargassed and confronted—in full riot gear—demonstrators exercising their First Amendment right to peacefully protest the unjust police killings of Black Americans. DOJABA urges the Department to investigate and address these disparities, which support what many have long feared: that the fair and impartial enforcement of the law does not apply to Black Americans.
James Baldwin wrote that, “not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” The stark contrast between the gravely deficient number of law enforcement and military assets at the Capitol last week as it became engulfed in mob violence and the vast number deployed all over Washington, D.C. last summer during the racial justice protests reminds us that there is much, as a nation, we must face and change, including how aggressively people of color are policed as compared to their white counterparts.
To be clear, DOJABA commends the actions of the many frontline officers, like Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who tried so valiantly to protect the Capitol. These officers were failed by their leaders, who willfully chose not to plan for the contingency or the likelihood of the violence that occurred. We also mourn the loss of Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick’s life, who died due to injuries sustained while defending the Capitol from rioters.
DOJABA calls on Department leadership to review all policies and procedures in place not only to ensure that those who perpetuated crimes at the Capitol on January 6, 2021, are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but to also ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the law.
This statement can also be viewed on DOJABA’s website at https://www.dojaba.org/statements.