Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita was one of only four attorneys general who refused to sign a letter from a national bipartisan group of state and territory officials condemning the insurrection at the United States Capitol last week.
Rokita said he didn’t sign because the National Association of Attorneys General didn’t release a similar letter following national unrest last summer.
While most of the protests across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death were peaceful, there was violence and property damage in several U.S. cities, including Indianapolis.
However, the correlation Rokita makes is a false equivalent, according to Dr. Emitt Riley an Associate Professor and Director of Africana Studies at DePauw University.
“You have a group of protestors who are calling attention to a real and systematic issue surrounding policing and inequality and the way in which policing happens to majority Black and communities of color," he said.
Riley asserted that’s a stark contrast from what occurred last week at the United States Capitol.
“On the other hand, you have a group of white supremacists who are inspired by an impeached president who lost reelection that attempted to prevent a Constitutional process.”
The office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Rokita's letter, issued on office letterhead, condemned the violence.
Over the weekend, Rokita conducted a self-described “experiment in free speech.”
On Jan. 8 — one day after the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol in which five people were killed —Rokita tweeted, “I will always be for our President.” The post then tagged the now suspended handle of President Trump and still active handle for Trump’s deputy chief of staff Dan Scavino.
The next day, Rokita issued a statement explaining his tweet and condemning the violence.
“I tweeted my support for the President and waited to see if a ban would occur on my own account,” he wrote. “Although a ban on my account has not yet occurred as many others have experienced, we confront an important question at this time in our nation about the extent to which we allow tech companies to control speech.”