To investigate the United States Capitol Police’s failure to protect the Capitol from pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6, lawmakers must also investigate long-standing allegations of racism within its ranks.
The footage of officers taking selfies with rioters is less surprising when considered in relation to three decades of complaints by Black officers about pervasive racism within the USCP—complaints that have been largely ignored by lawmakers. Some white officers acted with impunity, even as they were being filmed, because they know that racism has long gone unchecked within their ranks.
In 1989, USCP Officer David Trader, a 60-year-old Black man with 14 years of experience on the force, claimed that he was kept off choice assignments because of his race and age. The House Office for Fair Employment Practices found that Officer Trader had been discriminated against because of his age but not because of his race. They ordered Capitol Police to pay Trader $7,448 in back compensation and $1,672 in lost overtime. Trader’s success gave other Black officers (who did not testify in support of his claims for fear of retaliation) the courage to later organize and speak out about the abuses that they also experienced.