Violence at the U.S. Capitol

TOPSHOT - Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they push barricades to storm the US Capitol in Washington D.C on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breeched security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

Mia Fitzloff

At around 2 pm on Wednesday, January 6th, Trump loyalists stormed the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. in an unjust violation of American law. Congress was in the process of certifying the Electoral College results, following the senate election in Georgia which would shift the majority.

We saw both Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Osoff greet victory in Georgia, which also means Senator Chuck Schumer of New York will hold control of the Senate Floor rather than Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Around the same time as the Georgia elections were solidified, violence was emerging in D.C. Before the crowds actually began their siege of the Capitol, President Donald Trump delivered a speech urging his supporters to take action. He told the people that “you will never take back our country with weakness”. Such language is likely to have come from the President’s frustration with running mate Vice President Mike Pence. The two had discussed the impending Congressional session to tally the electoral votes that would finally, ultimately name President-Elect Joseph R. Biden victorious. Mike Pence explained that he did not have the power to overturn the election results like the President wanted. President Trump deemed Pence ‘soft’ and left to speak at the rally at the Ellipse. The “Save America March” brought in huge crowds of very angry supporters. Here are some quotes from the President’s 70-minute speech: 

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-save-america-rally-transcript-january-6

  • “They came from all over the world- actually, but they came from all over our country.”
  • “The media is the biggest problem we have as far as I’m concerned, single biggest problem,”
  • “This year, they rigged an election. They rigged it like they’ve never rigged an election before”
  • “You don’t concede when there’s theft involved.”
  • “By the way, does anybody believe that Joe had 80 million votes? Does anybody believe that?” 

I would like to make it clear that I not only believe it, but it is a known fact.

  • “I hope so. I hope so because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election. All he has to do.”
  • “They’ve used the pandemic as a way of defrauding the people in a proper election”
  • “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building”
  • “We’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

Of course, these quotes are only a small part of the speech which also highlighted details of how Mitt Romney’s flight went, what Hunter Biden is up to, and how much Trump loves Pennsylvania avenue. However, the “Save America March” was only the beginning of what took place in our Nation’s Capitol yesterday. President Trump did not accompany the crowd in their raid of the Capitol even though in his speech he said he would “be there with you”. Instead, he took to twitter, where he called out to Mike Pence again: 

Representative Liz Cheney told Fox News that “there is no question, the president formed the mob.” And of course, with the video footage and photos released, there is no question that this march became a mob. Thousands of Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol- many of them armed and in gear. They climbed the building’s walls, shattered windows, and waved Trump flags everywhere. Fox News reported statements from Kayleigh McEnany, White House press secretary who clarified that she was speaking on behalf of the White House, not referring to the President himself. McEnany deemed the violence seen in our Capitol as “appalling and reprehensible” and that rioters would be “prosecuted to the fullest extent.” Meanwhile, Trump tweeted several messages of compassion and love for the rioters. “Go home with love and peace”, “Remember this day forever!”, and a video saying “I know your pain, I know your hurt.” This language used by the Presidents shows obvious contrast to earlier statements about the Black Lives Matter protests from 2020. The President appears to be sympathizing with the violent rioters on his own behalf. 

It is abundantly clear that the members of Trump’s staff are not in a similar position of sympathy. Kellyanne Conway told ABC that the riots were made up of a bunch of  “extremists”, while Alyssa Farah, former communications director publicly urged the President to condemn the violence. “Condemn this now, @realDonaldTrump – you are the only one they will listen to. For our country!”

It is hard to say how the President is feeling about some of the differing opinions his administration is demonstrating, however on multiple occasions he has used the term “weak republican” which he adopted quite strongly while the rioting was taking place. On the other side of things, we heard from both President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on the event at the Capitol. Here are some important quotes from these speeches: 

  • “Our democracy is under unprecedented assault.” -Joe Biden
  • “In times of upheaval… we come to realize, to appreciate just how vital the rule of law truly is.” -Kamala Harris
  • “An assault of the most sacred of American undertakings…” -Joe Biden
  • “Lawlessness, chaos, border on sedition… and it must end now.” -Joe Biden
  • “I call on President Trump to go on national television now, and fulfill his oath, and defend the constitution.” -Joe Biden
  • “It has no place in our democracy.” -Kamala Harris
  • “A clear failure to carry out equal justice.” -Joe Biden
  • “No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting, they would’ve been treated very very differently.” -Joe Biden

The unjustness of unequal policing seen at the Capitol is appalling. 52 people were arrested at the storming of the Capitol. The crowds resisted the little police control applied because they knew they could. It has been estimated that 14,000 people were arrested during the Black Lives Matter protests. It isn’t just the statistics. 

Here is a screenshot from a video taken of Trump rioters taking selfies with the security at the Capitol building. The Capitol Police rejected offers of federal help to handle the mob, but also later released a statement saying they were “unprepared for the rioters”. In such a case where you were unprepared, wouldn’t you be more then willing to accept aid? 

Do these look like events that might require federal help? 

Photos from ABC

There is likely to be much more information to come on this, including possible use of the 25th amendment, “if the President becomes unable to do his job, the Vice President becomes the President” and an emergency impeachment vote. These events from Wednesday are absolutely unprecedented. If you are looking for information or support in this high-stress situation I highly encourage you to stay updated on recent news and look for support in family and friends. 

Sources: 

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/mcenany-condemns-appalling-violence-capitol-promises-orderly-transition

https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/donald-trump-speech-save-america-rally-transcript-january-6

https://www.cnn.com/?refresh=1

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/01/06/dc-protests-trump-rally-live-updates

https://www.nbcnews.com/video/joe-biden-black-lives-matter-protesters-would-have-been-treated-differently-at-capitol-demonstrations-99068997831

https://www.forbes.com/sites/roberthart/2021/01/07/figures-show-stark-difference-between-arrests-at-dc-black-lives-matter-protest-and-arrests-at-capitol-hill/?sh=520314135706