Federal law enforcement officials are privately debating whether they should decline to charge some of the individuals who stormed the U.S. Capitol this month — a politically loaded proposition but one alert to the practical concern that hundreds of such cases could swamp the local courthouse.
The internal discussions are in their early stages, and no decisions have been reached about whether to forgo charging some of those who illegally entered the Capitol on Jan. 6, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions.
Justice Department officials have promised a relentless effort to identify and arrest those who stormed the Capitol that day, but internally there is robust back-and-forth about whether charging them all is the best course of action. That debate comes at a time when officials are keenly sensitive that the credibility of the Justice Department and the FBI are at stake in such decisions, given the apparent security and intelligence failures that preceded the riot, these people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss legal deliberations.
Due to the wide variety of behavior, some federal officials have argued internally that those people who are known only to have committed unlawful entry — and were not engaged in violent, threatening or destructive behavior — should not be charged, according to people familiar with the discussions.
I read this and then I think about the history of law enforcement aimed at Black people and I just shake my head. First, imagine what would have happened if Black protestors rioted at the Capitol. They would have been massacred and the survivors prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. But even outside of political violence, think about how the War on Drugs effectively created an entire police presence dedicated to incarcerating a generation of Black people like an assembly line. Were they worried about overwhelming a courthouse then? Are they ever worried about overwhelming a courthouse when it comes to Black people? Are they ever worried about overwhelming a courthouse when it comes to any left protest? No. But these are white conservatives and some of them are just good ol’ boys who haven’t really done anything wrong, amirite?