A video of Georgia Rev. Sen.-elect Raphael Warnock's arrest at the Capitol Hill in 2017 resurfaced on social media following Wednesday's violent siege of the government building. The clip prompted social media users to draw comparisons between police actions towards the Jan. 6 rioters and Warnock — who prayed inside the Capitol building at the time to protest budget cuts proposed by President Donald Trump.
Twitter user @NikkisBubble was the first to post the video that was shared by political activist Nick Knudsen. He captioned the video: "In 2017, Senator-Elect Raphael Warnock was arrested in the Capitol rotunda for *praying* in opposition to the GOP's assault on health care. Just think about that, given the events on January 6th."
The video showed Warnock along with the Rev. Cynthia senior pastor of Georgia's Ray of Hope Christian Church and other clergy members praying inside the rotunda Russel Senate Office Building in July 2017. The group protested the GOP budget proposal that would mostly affect African-Americans by peacefully singing and praying inside the building. Moments later, the Capitol Hill police officers surrounded the group and arrested Warnock — the pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr. preached.
While the reverend was released the same day, the police action towards African-Americans and the thousands of violent rioters of the Capitol Hill siege was the talking point on social media. Photos and videos circulated on Twitter showed rioters taking selfies with the police, barging into the government building and carrying various items including a podium and a sign stand. A protester was pictured sitting at a desk in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office. However, the police tried to stop the mob and escort the rioters out of the building.
"@ReverendWarnock this should have never happened to you all and yesterday should have never happened. Praying does not warrant an arrest, but rioting should," one Twitter user wrote.
"@CapitolPolice Lesson for the day: -Taking a knee to pray in the Capital gets you arrested -Attempting a violent overthrow of a Democratically elected body of government gets you ushered to the House floor via a velvet rope line," tweeted another user.
So far 52 rioters were arrested in connection with the siege that killed five people — a police officer being the latest casualty. The figures highlighted differences between the Capitol siege arrests and the arrests made during racial justice protests in Washington D.C. last summer. Between May 30 and June 2, 2020, law enforcement officials arrested 427 people, including 24 juveniles.