D.C. Official: Jan. 6 Response Would Be 'Vastly Different' If Rioters Were Black

“I think there would have been a lot more bloodshed," said House Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker.

House Sergeant-at-Arms William J. Walker, formerly the head of the Washington, D.C., National Guard on Jan. 6, 2021, revealed that he thinks the response to the deadly riot would be “vastly different” if those involved were Black people.

The comments from Walker derive from the testimony he provided the panel in April.

“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,” said Walker, according to the transcript. “As a career law enforcement officer, part-time soldier, last five years full-time, but a law enforcement officer my entire career, the law enforcement response would have been different.”

Walker, who is Black, also told the committee they were “looking at somebody who would get stopped by the police for driving a high-value government vehicle. No other reason.”

“I think it would have been a different response,” Walker said.

“I’ve had to talk with my five children, and getting ready to have it with my granddaughter, the talk. I don’t know if you know what I mean by the talk, of what to do to survive an encounter with the police.”

The committee ― which released its final report last week ― determined that Pentagon officials didn’t purposely hold off sending the National Guard to the Capitol but “conflicting messages” caused a delayed response, according to The Hill.

The report found that former President Donald Trump also “had authority and responsibility to direct deployment” of the D.C. National Guard but “never gave any order to deploy” them and didn’t ask federal law enforcement agencies for assistance.

The report described: “Although evidence identifies a likely miscommunication between members of the civilian leadership in the Department of Defense impacting the timing of deployment, the Committee has found no evidence that the Department of Defense intentionally delayed deployment of the National Guard.”

William J. Walker testifies before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration joint hearing in Washington on March 3, 2021.
William J. Walker testifies before a Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Senate Committee on Rules and Administration joint hearing in Washington on March 3, 2021.
Shawn Thew via Associated Press

Walker said in his testimony that ― compared to the protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020 ― officials, including the secretary of the Army and secretary of defense, didn’t give him a ring as rioters breached the Capitol on Jan. 6 in comparison to the constant calls he received the summer before.

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

Then-president-elect Joe Biden also shared similar thoughts as Walker during a speech on the day after the attack.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday... they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said.

“We all know that’s true. And it is unacceptable ― totally unacceptable. The American people saw it in plain view, and I hope it sensitized them to what we have to do.”

Walker, a retired U.S. Army major general, noted that the “intelligence was there” to know that Jan. 6 would be a “big deal.”

“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. 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.”

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