Chaos on Capitol Hill

By: Sarah Brill  |  January 13, 2021

By Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor 

For the past month and a half, President Trump has spread nonsense on Twitter, tweeting out that the election was a fraud and that votes were not counted properly. Twitter has taken a course of action, flagging a total of 200 tweets since the election, warning viewers that the tweet had been taken down due to falsified information regarding the election. While disputing the election, Trump has encouraged his supporters to attend his rallies as he spews false information. The thing is, Trump supporters believe him. They think that the election was rigged and that somehow the recount was also fraudulent. They are convinced that Trump won both the electoral college and the popular votes, both of which Joe Biden won. 

On January 6, 2021, Congress was set to confirm President-elect Joe Biden as the official winner of the 2020 election. Matters escalated, however, as Congress was in session. Mobs of Trump supporters flooded the steps of the Capitol and breached security. These people successfully entered the building, and one person was shot and died later that day. 

Members of this mob had successfully entered the Statuary Hall and were deploying chemical irritants. All members of Congress were required to exit their meeting hall and place gas masks on their faces. According to the Washington Post, “Spanberger, a former CIA case officer, said that it was a crisis she would only expect to see unfold in fragile countries halfway across the world. “It is a low for this country I never thought we would reach,” she said. “This is what we see in failing countries. This is what leads to the death of democracy.”

Shortly after chaos ensued, the National Guard was deployed, and D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) issued a city-wide curfew from 6 p.m. on January 6 to 6 a.m. on January 7. Before 6 p.m., Bowser made remarks directed at President Trump, saying, “We continue to urge the president to tell his supporters they are putting police officers, innocent people in danger, and they need to go home.” When the National Guard and the police had the area under control, the supporters would still not go down without a fight shouting racist and xenophobic remarks over a loudspeaker. 

In response to this mob, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), who formally rejected Joe Biden as the electoral college winner, revoked that stance after seeing the undemocratic actions of these Trump supporters. President Trump, and his supporters, many of whom supposedly back Christian beliefs, have even been scolded by the dean and bishop of the Washington National Cathedral, saying to Trump, “Mr. President, there has been no fraudulent election. You called your supporters to our Capitol, you fed their wild fantasies and conspiracy theories, you whipped them into a frenzy; this is not acceptable.” 

What is utterly ironic about this whole situation is that while Trump was attempting to create chaos, Vice President Mike Pence was not. Trump asked Pence to block the election results. In response, “Pence on Wednesday [January 6] had issued a letter to lawmakers confirming that he did not believe he had the ‘unilateral authority’ to reject electoral votes in the race for the White House.”

Around 3 p.m., Trump tweeted out a call to the mob at Capitol Hill to remain peaceful which is almost funny as he has been promoting this rally since his “Save America Rally” where he urged his supporters to head to the Capitol to demonstrate against Congress certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Of course, peaceful assembly is not a crime, however January 6 was not an example of peaceful assembly. 

One parallel that has been drawn most recently is the one between the Black Lives Matters movement this summer and this storming of Capitol Hill. In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement took the street in response to members of the Black community being killed by the police during arrests. Even though BLM was advocating for a worthy cause, and even though the grand majority of the marches were peaceful, the president still called all the marchers “thugs.” Apparently, the same rhetoric does not apply to the Capitol stormers he called “very special” and great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” The bias and racism cannot be more clear than that. One group of people was protesting voting democracy, and another was protesting for basic human rights. One involves privileged far right conservatives breaking into the Capitol building, looting offices, and desecrating our democracy. Another involved minimal looting that took place at locations like Target and Walmart. The two are not comparable.

Suppose the situation were reversed and BLM was storming the Capitol building. In that case, I can assure you, not only would they have not been able to get in, but they would have been pepper-sprayed, arrested, and shot with rubber bullets on the spot, as that was the reaction when they were peacefully protesting. For example, at the Elijah McClain violin vigil in Aurora, Colorado. police opened fire with rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse a crowd of people listening to the violinists play in tribute of the young boy who died at the hands of law enforcement. Fast forward to January 6, when a group of white supremacists, Nazis, Proud Boys, and other civilians could, without any problem, without any confrontation whatsoever, stormed the Capitol and reached the point where they were looting the building and sitting casually in offices. 

Personally, what really rattled me is that Jewish people are still supporting Trump and the supporters after an antisemitic sweatshirt was pictured in the Capitol building. The shirt read “Camp Auschwitz.” Are these the people Trump calls “very special?” It was also the knowledge that Nazi’s were within the crowd of supporters along with white supremacists, both groups who have not only despised the Jews for generations, but other minority groups as well. 

The attack on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on Wednesday was fueled by the fire Donald Trump has been burning ever since the election. Hopefully, peace can be restored on the Hill, and the atrocious and undemocratic behavior we have seen, where Congress members’ lives are physically at stake, never happens again. 

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