It’s what we’ve all been saying for nearly two years now. The response to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol would have looked drastically different if rioters had been Black. William Joseph Walker, the House Sergeant-at-Arms, who was the head of the D.C. National Guard at the time, echoes that same sentiment.
“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,” Walker told congressional investigators, in the interview transcript released on Tuesday. “As a career law enforcement officer, part-time soldier, last five years full but, but a law enforcement officer my entire career, the law enforcement response would have been different.”
The Black community weren’t the only ones to speak on the obvious, either. President Joe Biden noted that there was a major difference in the way protestors were treated in Washington following the murder of George Floyd versus how delicately the mob was handled the day of Jan. 6, 2021. Walker also mentioned to investigators that had the crowd that day been Black rather than white, more people would have died.
“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 later became the House sergeant at arms in 2021, went on to speak about conversations he’s had with his own family. The father of five, and the grandfather of one, says he’s had “the talk” several times about how to survive police encounters as a Black American in this country.
“You’re looking at somebody who would get stopped by the police for driving a high-value government vehicle. No other reason,” Walker said.
According to NBC News, the D.C. National Guard was not authorized to step in on the day of Jan. 6 until 3 hours and 19 minutes into the attack. The House committee reports that the delay likely had to do with a ”miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense.”
Walker says that he knew the event would be a “big deal” because of what all was taking place in the world at the time.
“I’m an intelligence officer ... to me, the intelligence was there that this was going to be a big deal,” he said in reference to Trump supporters descending in D.C. between November and December of that year.
“You don’t need intelligence. I mean, everybody knew that people were directed to come there by the president. November was a run-up, December was practice, and January 6th was executed,” Walker said.
“I personally, William Joseph Walker, not General Walker, thought that it was just vastly different,” he said, again comparing the nationwide protests of 2020 to the Capitol riot. “National Guard is not called in December. National Guard is not called in November. And I watched on television the difference between people coming to the Capitol in November. And if you watch the film, and if these same groups came back in December, better prepare. Better prepare.”
As previously reported, the final report brought forth by the Jan. 6 committee focused more on President Trump than the law enforcement and intelligence failures of the moment. It did note however that “Federal and local law enforcement authorities were in possession of multiple streams of intelligence predicting violence directed at the Capitol prior to January 6th.”
More from The Root