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CLARENCE PAGE: Did Black Lives Matter trigger the Jan. 6 Capitol attack? That’s a stretch
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CLARENCE PAGE: Did Black Lives Matter trigger the Jan. 6 Capitol attack? That’s a stretch

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I appreciate constructive criticism, even when I think the critic is full of prunes.

But that fortunately was not the case in an email I received from a reader in the past week as U.S. Capitol police in Washington braced themselves for a rally to protest prosecution of the fools who attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Although he agreed with my criticism of the nitwits who attacked the Capitol, he thought I let the other nitwits who committed violence at Black Lives Matter protests in Chicago and other cities off the hook.

“Until we acknowledge that the insurrection in Washington resulted, at least in part, from the riots and disorder which occurred the previous summer, we will not come together as a country,” he wrote. “Unification comes from the middle and spreads outward. There are too many in the middle who see the willingness to blame one side and not the other as hypocrisy at its worst.”

Fair enough. For the record, I strongly oppose violence by either side – and agree that violence by one side doesn’t justify violence by the other side.

Yet a number of outspoken supporters of former President Donald Trump have responded to the Capitol Hill violence, which left five dead, including a Capitol police officer, as if blame should be put on BLM protests which, like most Trump rallies, were mostly peaceful.

Sure, arson and looting did break out during or following peaceful protests in Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, Louisville, Kentucky, Detroit, Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

That should be condemned, and many people were arrested for being part of it.

And more than 600 suspected Capitol Hill rioters also have been arrested, often as a result of their actions having been recorded by the many cameras present.

Yet the process of rewriting this history has begun.

Rally organizer Matt Braynard, a former Trump campaign strategist who has been promoting the event and others like it in other cities in coming weeks, has been focusing attention on what he calls the “political prisoners” being unfairly prosecuted.

“Today I write in support of basic human rights,” he said in an August news release, “for a specific group of Americans who have been disparately and inhumanely treated by their government – singled out, imprisoned, and even physically abused – because of their political beliefs.”

Oh? Is he perhaps referring to Jacob Chansley, also known famously as Jake Angeli or the “QAnon Shaman,” who was transferred to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, after a judge agreed to his request for organic food behind bars?

Is there any wonder why BLM supporters and others, including me, wonder how a mob of Black rioters would have been treated for similar offenses?

More likely Braynard was thinking of Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed by a Capitol Police officer during the Jan. 6 attack when she and others tried to break into an area leading to the House chamber while lawmakers were meeting inside.

She has been described by Trump and some of his supporters as a martyr, although both the Justice Department and Capitol Police cleared the officer who shot her.

Trump’s calls for “law and order” sound sadly selective, especially when he continues to claim the election was “stolen” from him despite more than 60 judges, including members of the Supreme Court, failing to find merit in his allegations.

And Trump earns the “Sore Loserman” label that Republicans put on then-Vice President Al Gore after he lost the controversially close 2000 presidential race to George W. Bush.

Elections matter. So does an honest count. As my reader wrote, too many people have been too willing to get angry at one side without listening to views other than their own.

But ultimately our elections must be decided at the ballot box – so we don’t have to take it to the streets.

Email Clarence Page at cpage@chicagotribune.com.

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