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Cincinnati leaders decry 'hypocrisy' of Capitol Police response to protests

Posted at 5:12 PM, Jan 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-09 15:52:24-05

CINCINNATI — When Bishop Ennis Tait saw the events that unfolded on Capitol Hill Wednesday, he didn't see simply a crowd of Americans who felt their voices weren't being heard.

He saw what he described as a hypocritical culture of white supremacy in the U.S. rearing its head.

"Many have called it one of the worst days in the history of America," said Tait, lead pastor and founder of the New Beginnings Church of the Living God in Avondale and president of the Faith and Community Alliance, during a news conference outside City Hall on Friday. "I beg to differ. Many of the worst days of the history of America have never been recorded."

Tait said he was struck most by how differently Capitol Police treated the crowd that stormed the Capitol Wednesday than police departments across the country treated Black Lives Matter protesters last summer in the aftermath of George Floyd's death.

Bishop Ennis Tate speaks outside Cincinnati City Hall, Jan. 8, 2021, calling on City Council to re-examine how the city invests in programs that "authentically...bridge the racial divide in our region."

"What a hypocrisy we saw on Wednesday," Tait said. "What we witnessed on January 6 was the manifestation of common behavior that has been our history here in this country."

Tait isn't alone in calling police action on Wednesday hypocritical. In the hours and days that followed, Capitol Police and other federal agencies have come under fire for being unprepared for the crowd that surged past their barricades outside the congressional building.

Some -- including President-elect Joe Biden -- have pointed to what they argue is a sharp contrast between police presence during last summer's Black Lives Matter protests and that which met the crowd of Trump rally attendees that descended upon the Capitol.

"No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn't have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol. We all know that's true, and it is unacceptable," Biden said during an address Thursday afternoon.

It's why Tait and other leaders in the region's faith community are renewing calls made last summer to the way the city and Hamilton County address racial division.

"We are calling on the city of Cincinnati and Hamilton County to review and reallocate funding to organizations that are working authentically to bridge the racial divide in our region," Tait said.

Council members Jan-Michele Kearney and Wendell Young called Friday's special session for the city's lawmakers to pass a resolution formally condemning the events of Jan. 6, when attendees of a Trump rally marched from the White House to the Capitol building, eventually turning chaotic and violent, and forcing entry into Congressional chambers.

Kearney voiced agreement with Tait and the president-elect: "As a Black American, I was not surprised, because that has been our history here in this country: that there is white privilege, it does exist and people could see it... (Y)ou could see the disproportionate treatment between the way Black protesters were treated and white protesters in this instance.

"We saw officers helping some of the protesters, helping them down the stairs, opening the gates so they could come in."

Young offered his take on Wednesday's events: "We have never ... pledged allegiance to an individual. Never in this country have – we don't do that. It's always been to the republic."

The council unanimously approved the resolution with a vote of 9-0, but it remained to be seen Friday how City Council might revisit any further calls for police reform.

Councilman Greg Landsman, though, said something needs to be done here locally.

"The racial disparities that were on full display, I think, requires us to act here."