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Community Advocacy Organization

Response to Jan. 6 would have been 'vastly different' if rioters were Black, House Sergeant speaks

Updated: Jan 1, 2023

photo courtesy Greg Nash, The Hill

WASHINGTON D.C. — The House sergeant at arms, who was the head of the D.C. National Guard at the time of the attack on the Capitol, told the January 6 committee that the law enforcement response would have looked 'vastly different' had the rioters been Black Americans.

“I’m African American. Child of the sixties. I think it would have been a vastly different response if those were African Americans trying to breach the Capitol,” William J. Walker told congressional investigators, in an interview transcript released Tuesday. “As a career law enforcement officer, part-time soldier, last five years full, but a law enforcement officer my entire career, the law enforcement response would have been different.”

Those same sentiments Walker expressed in his testimony are shared observations of many Americans, including President Joe Biden, who noted the stark difference in the law enforcement response to protests in D.C., specifically those following the May 2020 murder of George Floyd. Biden has also mentioned the lax security at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

William J. Walker also indicated he thought more people in the crowd would have died if the mob had been majority Black instead of majority white.

“You know, as a law enforcement officer, there were — I saw enough to where I would have probably been using deadly force,” he said. “I think it would have been more bloodshed if the composition would have been different.”

Walker, a former Drug Enforcement Administration official who became the House sergeant at arms in April 2021, also described his personal experiences with discriminatory law enforcement stops, and discussed having “the talk” with his five children about surviving police encounters as a Black American.

“You’re looking at somebody who would get stopped by the police for driving a high-value government vehicle. No other reason,” Walker said.

All in all it seems that Walker is highlighting the disparities we have seen throughout history with the ways law enforcement handles the transpiring of crime done by white people versus Black people. It seems there has been a resurgent in the public's cry for equality and streamline of action by law enforcement. Now, a knowledgable public servant's account is backing up the claims.

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