Black UNR professor reacts to Capitol chaos, Black Lives Matter protests

Published: Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:58 PM PST
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - The chaos that occurred at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. on January 6, 2021, is reigniting differences when it comes to nationwide protests, including the demonstrations surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement last summer.

University of Nevada Journalism Professor Dr. Paul Mitchell shared with KOLO 8 News Now his take on the division in our country.

“If you look at some of the video footage, you saw police letting in protesters, just letting them in,” Dr. Mitchell said, “Whereas this summer, it was ‘oh no, we gotta keep you out of here.’ I’m thinking wow, that was quite interesting for me to watch that.”

Mitchell has reflected on what he calls a double standard when it comes to protests for racial injustice versus the breach of our nation’s Capitol. He added, “There’s blue-collar crime that is committed by white people and there’s blue-collar crime that’s committed by black people. But the blue-collar black crime is going to be treated much differently than it is going to be with white-collar crime.”

When asked his opinion on where President Donald Trump stands with what happening at the Capitol, Mitchell said, “I think that the president was complicit. while he is complicit, he is not solely responsible. I think that we need to really understand that, that there are some other deep-seated things in this country that mainly white males are really trying to grapple with.”

On May 29, 2020, President Trump responded to Black Lives Matter protests via Twitter: “....These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen. Just spoke to Governor Tim Walz and told him that the Military is with him all the way. Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looking starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

On January 6, 2021, he responded to pro-Trump protests in a video message, saying in part: “Go home. We love you. You’re very special.”

Mitchell added, “To me, it was the expectation is black people are going to destroy whatever, but white people are going to be observant and respectful, and I think what we saw was the complete opposite happen.”

“If that had been a group of black people, you best believe there would have been a lot more deaths that would have occurred, there would have been a lot more injuries.”

Dr. Paul Mitchell, University of Nevada Journalism Professor

Mitchell said he’s personally seen the fight to end racism continue to get knocked down. For example, in 2016, Nevada alum Colin Kaepernick took advice from a veteran to start kneeling during the National Anthem at NFL games to denounce police brutality against black people. He was subsequently shunned from the league, using zero violence.

“As someone who knew Colin Kaepernick when he was an incoming freshman, I look at what he was saying, and he was saying what a lot of African Americans already knew. we had experienced that in some form or fashion. and he was telling America well this is what’s happening. and America said you know, we just need you to play football, we don’t need you to get into all this.”

With college classes starting on January 25, 2021, Dr. Mitchell says he’s looking forward to having intense and important conversations with future journalists in his class, knowing how critical it is to be neutral and unbiased.

KOLO 8 News Now also interviewed Nevada Assemblyman Jim Wheeler to get his take on the Republican party after the riot at the Capitol. You can watch that story below.

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