Doc Rivers was candid while discussing Wednesday’s attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump.
The mob stormed the Capitol while attempting an insurrection, and the building was put into lockdown. The attack forced Congress to halt its session to certify the Electoral College results and confirm Joe Biden’s election as president.
It took more than three hours after the insurrectionists broke into the Capitol for police to clear the steps of the building. While retreating into the lawn, mob members shouted, among other things, “This is just the beginning.”
Rivers, the 76ers coach, noticed the differences in law enforcement’s response at the Capitol to the many Black Lives Matter protests this summer.
Police officers at the Capitol were sometimes subdued against the Trump supporters, some of whom breached the building. Rivers compared those police tactics with others, which included violence, against BLM protesters.
“It basically proves a point about a privileged life in a lot of ways,” Rivers said before his Sixers defeated the Washington Wizards, 141-136, Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
“You know I’ll say it because I don’t think a lot of people want to,” Rivers said. “Could you imagine today if those were all Black people storming the Capitol, and what would have happened? You know, so that to me is a picture that’s worth a 1,000 words to all of us to see. Probably something for us to reckon with again. No police dogs turning on people. No billy clubs hitting people. People peacefully being escorted out of the Capitol.
“So it shows that you can disperse a crowd peacefully, I guess, would be the one thing.”
He noted that it’s a sad day in a lot of ways. But Rivers added it’s part of what we are, and we have to solve it.
Rivers, a 59-year-old Black man, was noticeably saddened by Wednesday’s happenings. He’s seen police dogs unleashed on people in the past. Then, at the Capitol, there was nothing.
Yet Rivers said things are improving.
He pointed to Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff winning their runoff elections against Republican incumbent Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. Warnock is a Black pastor, and Ossof is the son of a Jewish immigrant.
Their victories over Georgia’s two incumbent GOP senators mean there will be a 50-50 split in the U.S. Senate. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, also a Democrat, will cast any tie-breaking votes.
Warnock, 51, will become the first Black senator in Georgia history and first Black Democrat to be elected to the senate in the South.
“I think they are getting better,” Rivers said of people. “Today is a sign, a little bit of that in some crazy way. I don’t know what way it is. But this is not masses [who are rioting]. The masses have spoken. I’m so proud of Georgia. Georgia spoke.
“But the symbolism of storming the Capitol without force done to them, you know if you are a Black American, it definitely touches you in a different way.
“This is not a Black thing. This is an American thing again today, and we shouldn’t turn it into that.”
Rivers doesn’t want people to think America doesn’t work. He wants them to know democracy still works.
He pointed that it wasn’t a ton of people, just enough of them.
“What fell on me, and I said this earlier, is if Martin Luther King had said, ‘I have a dream,’ today, and then said ‘Now, let’s storm the Capitol,’ there would have been bloodshed.”
“So watching how the unfolded and how peaceful it was in some ways other than there was a lady that lost her life, it just tells you that we can handle things differently. When Black people in the past have protested they called them looters and rioters. Today they kept calling them protestors for the most part and then it changed.”
That’s why Rivers thinks a lot of things changed for the better, because of what happened Wednesday. He hopes this is the first step to heal the country.
“This country needs to be healed. There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “And I’m hoping that Joe Biden and Kamala can do it, because we need them. We need them to heal this country.”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks called the mob’s actions embarrassing and sad.
“It’s unacceptable,” the former Sixers player said. “It’s America’s Capitol. You should not be able to do what I saw on video. It’s disgusting. It’s embarrassing. It should never happen.
Brooks said he talked to many coaches Wednesday who feel the same.
“You should not be allowed to get into the Capitol and do what I saw today,” Brooks said. “And the pictures, just a disgrace.”