Activists who took part in Black Lives Matter marches in Washington last year watched in amazement this week as hundreds of pro-Trump rebels stormed the US Capitol with seemingly little resistance from the police.
Scenes of Wednesday's chaos, in which the Capitol building was broken and the Confederate flag flown in its halls, stood in stark contrast to what happened in June, when heavily armed police flooded the city and buzzed overhead in military helicopters.
A now famous photograph of armed police lined up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the BLM protests has become symbolic of double standards.
Anger among many African Americans deepened as footage showed authorities on Wednesday allowing rebels to leave the Capitol complex without being arrested. It has renewed talks to revise the country's police and criminal justice system, an issue that President-elect Joe Biden has promised to prioritize his administration.
Alycia Kamil, a leader of the Chicago anti-violence group Good Kids Mad City, remembered the heavy-handed police force she joined this summer in Washington, Chicago and Minneapolis.
"When you look back on it, you get more angry at how we were treated," she said. “Most of our members got tear gas, pepper sprayed, shot at by rubber bullets, too. . . do nothing but march, or take up space or block intersections.
But while Kamil is angry, she is not shocked: she said she expected police to treat white people more leniently.
However, criminologists who have studied racial differences in the U.S. police say they were appalled to see the difference demonstrated quite vividly this week.
Valena Beety, a law professor at Arizona State University, said: “I was shocked to see white men strolling through the Capitol, with handheld selfie sticks, and taking pictures of themselves with their flags, quite casually. Seeing them handled with boys' gloves was incredibly disturbing.
The light touch of Wednesday's attack on the Capitol drew condemnation from Michelle Obama, the former First Lady. "Seeing the gap between the responses to yesterday's uprising and this summer's peaceful protests and the larger movement for racial justice is so painful. It hurts, "she wrote in a statement.
The contrast in how the incidents were politicized generated widespread revolt that reached into the company's C-suites. In a note to employees, American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said the company acknowledged "the difference in how other protesters have been treated".
Instead of demonstrating before the National Basketball Association competition Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks and Detroit Pistons took a knee during the game itself ̵
The challenge for the incoming president will translate the uprising into politics while keeping the party's centrist and progressive wings united and also working across the aisle with the Republicans.
The president-elect has said he plans to spend more money on police in the community, redirect people with less drug convictions into treatment instead of jail and decriminalize marijuana.
Experts say he could also choose to make it easier to bring federal prosecution against police officers who commit violent acts, which is difficult to do now because prosecutors must prove evil.
However, Mr Biden has rejected calls to "reject" or radically reorganize police departments. And he has not yet said whether he is willing to try to pass the Breathe Act, a package of measures supported by BLM activists that includes repealing his own bill from 1994.
Legislation from 1994, which Biden has since been described as a "mistake", has been accused by experts of fueling a time of mass incarceration that has disproportionately affected black society.
Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, said: "The fact that white supremacist terrorists are capable of storming the Capitol – one of the safest and most guarded buildings in the United States – proves that the police operate below a double standard when the protesters look like them.
She added: "Elected President Biden must pass the Breathe Act.
Although the president-elect decides to push for a fundamental rearmament of US policing, his room for maneuver is likely to be limited both by the slim majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate, and by the fact that much police policy is determined at the local level.
Biden could use his office to pressure local democratic leaders to be tougher on police misconduct. But if he does, he will likely encounter opposition from police unions, some of whom did not seem to understand why Wednesday's scenes sparked such an uprising.
John Catanzara, president of the Chicago Police Department, said of the rebels on Thursday: "They pushed past security and took the road to the Senate. Did they ruin anything when they were there? No. "He apologized on Friday, saying his comments had been a" lapse of judgment. "
Jonathan Blanks, a visiting fellow at the Foundation for Research on Like Opportunity, said:" Police unions have extraordinary political power, they are almost untouchable. If President Biden wants to shake up the police in America, they will fight him all the way.