The authorities showed no hesitation when locating and prosecuting Black Lives Matter protestors, but most of the domestic terrorists who stormed the Capitol building may walk away with their criminal history unscathed.
The Washington Post reported on Saturday that federal law enforcement officials are privately debating whether they should forgo charging some of the individuals who participated in the Capitol riots. Though the Department of Justice promised a relentless effort to identify and charge these rioters, a different picture is being painted internally.
Authorities estimate that around 800 people stormed the Capitol. Although more than 100 people have already been arrested, multiple people familiar with the discussions claim there is concern about overwhelming the local Washington, D.C. courthouses. As a result, it is possible that the majority of rioters won't face any criminal charges.
This line of thinking marks a stark difference from the BLM movement. Protesters during these events have been identified through various sources and had the book thrown at them for minor offenses. Learning that most of the people who committed bold, televised acts of domestic terrorism won't suffer the same fate didn't sit well with many Americans.
"DOJ officials estimate 800 people stormed the Capitol and are concerned that charging too many people could swamp the local courthouse," New York-based criminal defense attorney Rebecca Kavanagh said, per Forbes. "Interesting, I've never heard similar concerns expressed when charging Black and Brown people with low level offenses."
It should also be noted that the excuse of overwhelming the courts is an easy problem to fix. Prosecutors would have to just delegate the cases to other U.S. attorney offices around the country, but D.C. doesn't seem interested in doing so since the law typically requires for individuals to be prosecuted where the crime occurred. The unprecedented nature of this coup, however, doesn't seem to have been taken into consideration.
"It’s not a like a bunch of people gathered on their own and decided to do this, it’s not like a mob," one attorney explained to the Post. "It’s people who were asked to come by the president, encouraged to come by the president, and encouraged to do what they did by the president and a number of others."