Douglas Andrews / Jan. 18, 2021

The Two Tiers of Rioting Justice

As the wheels of justice turn on the Capitol rioters, let's look back on the rioters at Trump's 2017 inauguration.

It’s news to no one that our country has a two-tiered justice system and that it feeds among us a dangerous sense that the game is rigged. Actually, though, our nation increasingly delivers four tiers of unequal justice: rich versus poor, of course, but also Left versus Right.

The legal process has barely begun for the Capitol rioters, but we’re already getting a sense of how it’ll play out: They’ll have the book thrown at them. After all, most of them support Donald Trump. But we need only remember back to 2017, to President Trump’s inauguration, to see an example of the Left-Right tiers at work and the markedly different justice meted out to those leftist rioters and what likely awaits the Capitol mob.

As Jon Dougherty of BizPac Review writes, “Video footage that was taken the morning of Trump’s inaugural shows black-clad mobs occupying streets, smashing storefront windows, attacking police officers, overturning trash cans, and generally causing mayhem in protest of what they perceived as a stolen election.”

A month after the 2017 inauguration, CNN reported that 214 people had been indicted on felony rioting charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $25,000. This seemed altogether appropriate for the “black bloc” antifa thugs who “smashed storefronts and bus stops, hammered out the windows of a limousine, and eventually launched rocks at a phalanx of police.” Six cops were injured that day, and 230 rioters were arrested. So far, so good, right?

Wrong. More than two years later, on July 6, 2018, the Associated Press reported that the government had dropped the charges against all inauguration protesters.

“Federal prosecutors on Friday moved to drop charges against the last 39 people accused of participating in a violent protest on the day of President Donald Trump’s inauguration,” wrote the AP’s Ashraf Khalil. “The motion to dismiss charges by the U.S. attorney’s office seemingly ends an 18-month saga that started with the Justice Department attempting to convict more than 190 people. That effort saw the government facing off against an intensely coordinated grassroots political opposition network that made Washington the focus of a nationwide support campaign — offering free lodging for defendants, legal coordination and other support.”

What are the odds that a “coordinated grassroots network” will convince Joe Biden’s Social Justice Department to drop all charges against the Capitol rioters?

To be clear, we’re not advocating that the pro-Trump rioters walk. Quite the contrary, in fact. As this cherry-picked footage from the New Yorker shows (language warning), this was anything but a bunch of middle-aged patriots milling around the Capitol and admiring the artwork.

On the other hand, it wasn’t what Nervous Nellie Representative Jamie Raskin made it out to be, either. To hear him tell it to a sympathetic Jake Tapper, “A violent mob … broke into the Congress of the United States, broke into the Capitol, and came within a hair’s breadth of hanging Vice President Pence. … They built a gallows outside the Capitol of the United States. There was an assassination party hunting for Nancy Pelosi. … This was an attack on our country.”

Perhaps Raskin has never heard of the term “effigy,” but one look at the scaffolding Raskin mentions reveals that it was both hastily constructed and nonfunctional. And for a mob that was ostensibly hell-bent on murdering Speaker Pelosi, they seemed to disband rather peacefully.

As for “an attack on our country,” that perspective is, like art, entirely in the eye of the beholder. “We all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” said Reuters global news editor Stephen Jukes back in the day.

Were they attackers, or did they perceive themselves as defenders?

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