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Leaders: Capitol chaos illustrates painful truth in Black community

Electoral College Protests
Posted at 6:02 PM, Jan 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 19:33:46-05

CLEVELAND  — As shocked as many people were to see what happened between police and protesters at the nation's capitol Wednesday, some leaders in Cleveland's Black community said it illustrated a painful truth many have lived with for generations.

There exists, they say, a double-standard when it comes to policing in America.

So while images of police restraint in the face of chaos at the US Capitol puzzled some, the president of Cleveland's NAACP wasn't surprised.

"I honestly did expect to see a lack of fear and concern," said Danielle Sydnor.

Sydnor said all you had to do was look at the colors of protesters' faces to know why she felt that way.

"Unfortunately we have a very hard time in this country talking about the fact that the skin color really makes a difference when you talk about the response of police," said Sydnor.

It's a perceived double-standard that Justin Bibb learned growing up as the son of a policeman.

"I remember those quiet conversations with my late father on his bedside and him telling me how to talk to police," said Bibb, founder of the non-profit organization Cleveland Can't Wait. "Yes sir. No sir. Yes ma’am. No ma’am, and so he always knew as a cop there was a double-standard. And that just shows us we still have a long way to go in this country to eradicate racism and the bias that exists."

Ayesha Bell Hardaway, Director of Case Western Reserve University's Social Justice Law Center hopes the incident opens people's eyes.

"This may get the attention of people in a meaningful way unlike the rights being squashed of Black people during peaceful protests," said Bell Hardaway. "And that hypocrisy in and of itself says a lot, but that’s always been known to a lot of people in this country and it hasn’t mattered."

But she and others see an opportunity for the country to have the hard conversations and to push for real change that gets rid of the structural racism inside a justice system that some say still isn't colorblind.

"You look at the tragic murder of George Floyd, the tragic murder of Breonna Taylor, the tragic murder of our own son of our city, Tamir Rice about seven years ago, they deserved the same level of restraint and de-escalation," said Bibb.

"What we have continued to try and say is we don’t need more training, we don’t need more bias training, what we need is for people to just treat us all like human beings," said Sydnor.