Trump supporters incite riot at US Capitol


Photo by Ted Eytan used under CC BY-SA 4.0.

Trump supporters march to the Capitol in protest of the election results on Jan. 6, 2021.

Aarthika Krishnan & Nayana Celine Xavier, Managing Editor & News Editor

For the first time in two centuries, the U.S. Capitol was breached as pro-Trump protestors stormed the building on Jan. 6. 

“I knew there was a major separation with this election amongst citizens, but I never thought it would be taken to this extent,” junior Katherine Richer said. 

It began amid a “Save America” rally in Washington D.C., when President Donald Trump urged his supporters to march to the Capitol in protest of president-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college victory. The wave of insurrectionists stormed the Capitol building, where Congress had been meeting to certify the election results.

“I was surprised that ‘peaceful protestors’ would be crazy enough to storm the Capitol, cause all the damage that they did and proudly display themselves all over the media,” junior Joshua Manuel said. “I was also surprised by how law enforcement allowed that to happen.”

The violence at the Capitol shocked people across the nation. Lawmakers were forced to shelter in place and wear protective gas masks during the insurrection, while others ran for cover. Videos shared on social media reveal the mob clashing with security forces at the Capitol and the deadly casualties that followed. More than 100 arrests have occurred so far and 5 deaths were documented, according to BBC News.

“The protestors had no justification for their actions,” Manuel said. “According to the First Amendment, people have the right to peacefully protest, but the protestors at the Capitol were not peaceful. They were violent, dangerous and caused so much damage.”

Several protestors carried memorabilia with links to far-right movements. Not only did some brandish Confederate and Nazi flags while wearing pro-Trump merchandise, but others wore derogatory costumes and one person wore a t-shirt with the words “Camp Auschwitz” displayed on it. Two intruders were pictured carrying plastic zip ties and restraints into the Senate Chamber, which were identified as gear meant for kidnapping senators. 

It’s an act of betrayal and so much hypocrisy I cannot even begin to wrap my head around: treason, domestic terrorism and anti-patriotism.

— junior Katherine Richer

In addition, a noose was constructed on the Capitol grounds. Multiple video clips from the scene documented a crowd of protestors chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” The threats to execute Vice President Mike Pence were made after Trump falsely claimed that Pence could overturn the election results.

“These groups of people always glorify their leaders and now they are trying to kidnap and kill them,” Richer said. “It’s an act of betrayal and so much hypocrisy I cannot even begin to wrap my head around: treason, domestic terrorism and anti-patriotism.”

Eventually, Trump tweeted for the protesters to “go home” and remain peaceful in a short video, praising them as “American patriots.” This video was initially taken down by Twitter due to a risk of further incitement of violence before his account became permanently suspended.

By the time most of the violence had subsided, the National Guard was deployed in D.C. alongside a citywide curfew. The 25,000 Guard troops are permitted to use lethal force to secure the Capitol building from potential threats of domestic terrorism. The National Guard is to remain active in D.C. until Inauguration Day.

“I think that this will affect the state of politics in America in a permanent way,” Manuel said. “With the two-party democracy that America has, it is impossible to please everybody. Now that Biden has been certified as the winner, maybe the protestors could come to their senses and finally accept that Trump lost the election.”

In a time that calls for unity, there appear to be greater divisions within the political parties. More and more Republicans are choosing to break away from Trump, with 10 House Republicans having voted to impeach Trump and others in his administration speaking out.

As the nation dwells on the hope of peace, reports of Trump supporters organizing future armed protests in all 50 states and the capital may cause further resistance to political and social amalgamation. 

“I feel as though law enforcement has been looking into this issue to track down [protest] plans before they follow through much more than they did last time,” Richer said. “Security in D.C. will be insane, but the thought of it still gives me anxiety. If they are capable of any actions similar to [Jan. 6], I will be praying for our country.”

Beyond the physical destruction within the Capitol, the riot revealed the divisions that plague the nation. Polarized politics and a deep distrust of the media have forced radicalized versions of America to emerge. There is no doubt that the storming of the Capitol will be cemented in our history books for years to come. 

“I think this could cause a lot of people to take a step back and look at their political party in general,” Richer said. “A lot of leaders will go against their current political parties in order to not be affiliated with the damage of the Capitol. This will be an event they all reflect on for a long time and [use to] focus on how to become united again.”