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As young people, we have become desensitized to the atrocities that occur on a national scale seemingly on the daily. We have developed our political ideals during an era where we are constantly told by the authority figures in our lives that the events that define our generation are atypical and unexpected. From impeachment to a pandemic, riots in our streets and disruptions in our hallways, far too many horrors have passed in our peripheries as we have scrambled to make sense of the world around us. The events that occurred at our Capitol serve as a stark reminder that we can never forget the long term implications these events have. Each scandal, every case of corruption, is a direct attack on democracy and is a crack in the foundation of our future. At the end of the day, it will always fall on the young people of our nation to fix the damage left behind. It is up to us to stay vigilant and to continue to fight for our rights however we can.
Summarizing the events of Jan. 6:
On Jan. 6, at 12:00 p.m., President Trump held a “Save America” rally where thousands of protesters gathered in front of the White House to hear Trump contest the validity of the election results. He delivered a call to action to his followers by saying, “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue…and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give…our Republicans, the weak ones…the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
At 1:06 p.m., Congress held a joint session to certify the electoral college results. By 1:10 p.m., rioters had broken into the building. The rioters–bearing guns and various other weapons- -had broken past Capitol security and headed for both the Senate and the House with the intent to reach legislators. The representatives were taken to various parts of the Capitol with gas masks and told to seek cover while the mob was left to their own devices.
Photographs from the events capture rioters breaking windows, stealing a podium, and taking down the American flag and attempting to replace it with a Trump flag. During this time, the offices of multiple legislators including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were broken into, with documents being stolen as memorabilia and threatening notes being left in their place.
At approximately 3:45 p.m. under direction from Vice President Mike Pence, the D.C. National Guard was called in and over the course of an additional nearly two hours various other law enforcement entities came to secure the Capitol, which was officially announced secure by 5:40 p.m., a mere 20 minutes before the city’s curfew. Over the course of just four hours and 30 minutes, multiple people had been injured and killed, irreversible damage had been done to our political system, and an act of domestic terrorism had occurred within our nation’s Capitol.
Understanding the motives behind the terrorist attack:
The far-right extremists who performed the terrorist attack on the Capitol were fueled by Joe Biden´s win in the 2020 US election. Trump supporters have been throwing out claims of voter fraud ever since his loss, despite having no hard evidence. The rioters were storming the Capitol in attempts to stop the counting of electoral votes which would confirm Biden´s victory. It isn’t much of a stretch to say that some people were there for nothing, except to cause chaos upon our nation’s capital. The events that broke out on Wednesday are no way to protest. Guns, fireworks, explosives, and other highly dangerous weapons were used. It was pure mayhem.
Some of the aggressors see the incursion as some sort of uprising. A video from Yahoo News has been released of a woman who claims that this was a ¨revolution.¨ This statement isn’t too troubling, as these ¨revolutionists¨ were quickly shut down after the National Guard arrived at the scene. The ignorant terrorists had no reason to invade the Capitol other than the fact that they were upset about Trump’s fair and just loss. The events that took place on Wednesday were unconstitutional and should be followed with punishment at the federal level. While the votes did eventually get counted, and Joe Biden´s presidency was confirmed, the horrific attack on Capitol Hill will forever be another nasty stain on American history.
Understanding President Trump’s role in the riot:
Preceding, during, and after all of the events that occured at the Capitol, President Trump openly supported, encouraged and praised the actions of the “protestors.” Some of the tweets openly supporting the actions have since been removed by Twitter, but a few that support but ask that they remain peaceful are still listed on Trump’s profile. One of them, posted Jan. 6 at 2:13 pm, states, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” The man in charge of our country spoke after the violence had already begun requesting that they simply show respect to law enforcement, claiming that the assumed Republican party is the “party of Law & Order. Trump even proceeded to thank the protestors for “peacefully” representing the subject. This whole concept is concerning, when compared to Trump’s obvious disapproval of past movements, that would also end up being discussed on Twitter.
In a tweet posted by the president on Jun 25, 2020, Trump spoke openly on his disapproval of the Black Lives Matter movement. The tweet reads, “Black Lives Matter leader states, ‘If the U.S. doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it’. This is Treason, Sedition, Insurrection!” Why was the same anger not utilized against those on Capitol Hill yesterday? The BLM movement is not the only one this comparison of support could be raised with. Some others include the March For Our Lives moment and The Indigenous Pipeline and Railway protests, all of which President Trump openly spoke out against. This argument, he felt benefited his agenda, and therefore got his support.
On comparing the Black Lives Matter protests and domestic terrorism:
After the 2020 election that resulted in Joe Biden becoming the 46th president of the United States, many Trump supporters were outraged, but prided themselves in their lack of rioting. A tweet from Donald Trump Jr. that was reposted in large amounts, even reaching our school, read, “70 million pissed off republicans and not one city burned to the ground.” This statement is no longer true after Wednesday night’s attack on the capitol, where photos show destruction of property, nooses being hung, and people carrying flags that represent hate. The Black Lives Matter protests during the past year must not be compared to what occurred on Wednesday. BLM protests were in response to the murders of countless African-American people at the hands of police officers, and the lack of remorse that the government showed. This can not be compared to the events on Capitol Hill.
The violence that occurred on Wednesday was in response to a fair election that simply didn’t work out in the favor of Trump supporters. This was more than an attack on our nation’s Capitol, the actions were a direct assault on American democracy. These actions committed by American citizens are truly embarrassing, and completely dispute the democratic ideals that have been essential to our nation’s core from the founding of our country.
For centuries, the United States has been acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest democracies, building our country on the idea that citizens should influence who leads our country. As some supporters of the losing party chose violence in storming into the Capitol building uninvited, they are directly suggesting that the winner of a fair election should not be accepted as our president and leader of the country. The rioters turned into extremists and committed an attack that can only be described as domestic terrorism.
Photos show Capitol police taking selfies with rioters, while BLM protesters were shot, pepper sprayed, and arrested. Not only is the difference in police response astounding, it’s embarrassing that the people whose job is to protect us are doing nothing more than taking selfies. Five people lost their lives on Jan. 6, and regardless of your political affiliation or interest level in politics, any loss of life is unacceptable and unnecessary. Five people lost their lives due to violence that was fueled by Donald Trump. Many Republicans, even Vice President Pence and Senator Mitch McConnell, have condemned the president and the rioters involved in last night’s violence. This event was influential in changing their opinions, because many true colors were shown. Despite the fact the deaths of people like Breonna Taylor, Trayvon Martin, James Scurlock, and George Floyd were not the tipping point in the fight, the fight must nevertheless continue with new people joining with eyes opened from the events at the Capitol.
May these people rest in power, and never be forgotten or overshadowed. Please visit https://blacklivesmatter.com/, sign petitions, and amplify black voices.