Protesting in a Pandemic: Comparing the BLM Movement and the Capitol Attack in the Media

Emma Sausman
5 min readJan 12, 2021


Photo by Life Matters from Pexels

As many of you already know, last week, Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol following the victory of Joe Biden in December last year. The rumour of the attack first came to light on the 21st of December when Arieh Kovler, a political consultant who studies Trump message boards tweetedOn January 6, armed Trumpist militias will be rallying in DC, at Trump’s orders. It’s highly likely that they’ll try to storm the Capitol after it certifies Joe Biden’s win. I don’t think this has sunk in yet.’

And as he predicted, this went ahead. The extremists went on to smash and break their way into the building, overwhelming police that ‘attempted’ to keep them from entering. Once inside, offices were trashed, vandalised, and human feces was smeared on to the walls, which when reading this back still makes me feel sick.

It seems it was manipulation that fuelled the attack. Throughout the December election, Trump assured supporters that his victory was certain, leaving them confused when this wasn’t the outcome. As a result, Trump’s conspiricies led the mob to believe their democracy had been tampered with.

Luckily, Trump has now been suspended from Twitter and other social media platforms, cutting short his communication with those who still idolise him and his ideology. With this in place, hopefully incidents like the storm of the Capitol will be avoided.

However, looking back on what happened on January 6th, I felt a sense of confusion but interest on how the media portrayed the attack, in comparison to other protests that have taken place during the pandemic.

“As Americans, we have been customized, socialized to treat violence differently based upon the body that it’s attached to,” said Dr. Duane Loynes, Sr., an Assistant Professor of Urban Studies and Africana Studies at Rhodes College.

The Black Lives Matter Movement

Let me take you back to the summer of 2020, when the death of George Floyd was documented for the world to see. For many and admittedly myself, this was a huge wake up call to the reality of police brutality towards the black community.

As a result of this, the Black Lives Matter Movement began protesting around the world. This was a plea for justice and peace, and opportunity for people to engage and learn about an issue that may not directly effect their own lives. However, protesters were met with the extract problem they were fighting against, police brutality. But this isn’t the message the media wanted to portray. During the time the press were obsessed around the ideology that the protests were going to increase coronavirus cases, without any research or hard evidence.

Headline taken from The Sun
Headline taken from The Daily Mail

At the time, this was confusing for protesters who, as you can see in the picture used above, wore masks and only protested outdoors. Because of these precautions that were taken during the protests, it has been officially confirmed that the BLM movement did NOT contribute to the rise in coronavirus cases.

But where were these concerns after the Capitol attack?

When typing in a similar search as the BLM movement but with the context of the Capitol, I struggled to find any articles which accused the mob of spreading the virus. This comes as a shock to myself and I am sure many others, because the images published from the riot show that the majority of participants seemed to of left their masks at home.

So, as well as the comparison of police violence and toleration of the Capitol attack, there is also a complete oversight of people wearing masks and socially distancing. Especially during this time when we are in our most crucial period if we wish to return to normality later on in the year. So, why have the media not addressed this? Where is the concern that was circulated round the BLM movement? Was the concern a disguise of peoples disapproval of the movement?

To me this seems a shame. The BLM movement was a major milestone in human rights and justice. The Capitol attack was a rage of upset and anger because Trump lost the election. I think it is fair to say the media and police have chosen their violence and attention in a concerning way. What do you guys think?

A Side Note

Until last year, I had never made the effort to educate myself on current American politics, and I must admit it is a shame that it has taken such extreme lengths for me to do. It can still be a tricky subject to get your head round, so relying on material that is unbiased and concise is essential.

When scrolling through Twitter the other day, it came to my attention a video from actor, Arnold Schwarzenegger. In the video he addresses the current threat America is under, following the recent attack on the Capitol, which is both gripping and compelling. Please watch the video here, if you have not yet done so.

Video taken from Twitter @Schwarzenegger

Schwarzenegger reminds us of the history of the Nazi’s and how we must keep the outcome of that tragedy in mind. I previously tweeted about this saying ‘Amazing speech, addressing some valued points over the recent months. Arnold is not yet comparing Trump and his followers to the actions of the Nazis, but highlighting that this could result in that possibility, and that is how we should be handling their actions going forward.’

What are your thoughts on this? Follow me on Twitter and let me know!



Emma Sausman

Just a University student trying to get through their final year👩‍🎓