by Allison Pope
January 6th, 2021. A chilling start to the new year that will go down in this nation’s history as a pivotal show of hypocrisy, double standards and white privilege. The day started as the day the electoral college would meet to confirm Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Donald Trump held a rally and continued on with his claim of voter fraud even after many thorough investigations continuously proved otherwise. He continued to stir up contention in the crowd with not-so-subtle comments such as, “We’re going to have to fight much harder…” or, “You’ll never take back our country with weakness, you have to show strength and you have to be strong,” Trump even insinuated that if they protested he would be alongside him saying, “After this we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you.” His speech stirred up anger and contention between the Trump supporters and the election process, and therefore the electoral college who was in the Capitol building at the moment voting. So they followed along and protested outside of the Capital, dressed up in Trump memorabilia and waving all sorts of flags, American and Confederate, the latter of which being a mockery of the other.
The protest quickly turned to a riot, and the crowd pushed through the police that had been deployed to guard the Capitol, but it soon became very clear to them that they had not been prepared for this kind of attack. All around rioters were scaling the Capitol, breaking windows and such to force themselves in and eventually, after a little over an hour, they did. Rioters stormed the Capitol, breaking and defacing the once pristine halls. Representative Daniel Kildee tweeted as the world watched, holding its breath, “...We have been instructed to lie down on the floor and put on our gas masks. Chamber security and Capitol police have their guns drawn as protesters bang on the front door of the chambers. This is not a protest. This is an attack on America.” A man was photographed holding House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s podium, another at her desk, leaving a chilling note that said, “we will not back down” while people around him broke mirrors in her office, stole a computer, and completely vandalised it. Congressmen and women continued to hide as they feared for their lives. Nancy Pelosi in an interview with 60 Minutes said that the staff were forced to hide and barricade themselves in a conference room as the rioters banged and yelled outside saying, “Where’s the Speaker? We know she has staff. They’re here somewhere, we’re going to find them.”
Finally, all too late, Vice President Mike Pence ordered the city’s entire National Guard to protect the Capitol. As the world watched, people begged the President to do something about it. Trump put out a couple of short tweets advising them to be peaceful. This later led to a short video message on Twitter retelling his narrative that the election had been rigged, but that they should go home, saying “...we love you, you’re very special...” as these people completely vandalised the Capitol building. But still people persisted, refusing to stand down. Twitter took down the video and some of his other tweets, deeming it too dangerous, and locked him out of his account for 12 hours, eventually permanently banning him from the app. Finally, the police finished clearing the Capitol building and as curfew hit, the rioters went home. The electoral college finished counting the votes later that evening, confirming Joe Biden as the next President despite the riot’s best attempts. The riot ended the lives of five individuals, as well as a police officer that worked to defend the Capitol taking his own life days later.
So what can we take away from these ghastly events? These sycophants attempted to destroy a government building that demonstrated the core of democracy in this country, just because they didn’t get their way. They had the right to protest as they have done many times before, but the second they breached the barriers, it turned into a riot, and an attack on democracy as well as the election process we have practiced for hundreds of years. The police escorted these people out of the building even after continuous mocks from the crowd, calling them “traitors” or suddenly jumping on the bandwagon they had fought to stop, shouting “ACAB” and many other profanities as the officers defended the building. The fact that they still got away with this, shows a perfect example of white privilege, as if there were a majority of black people in the crowd, this would have gone a very different way as we see and continue to see in current society. They have started arresting people who had incited violence, but the fact that they hadn’t done that at the time of the riots, but after pressure from outside forces, shows just how different the consequences are according to the color of their skin or political affiliation. With a building of that much historical and modern-day significance, the fact that it took roughly three hours to get all of the rioters out of the building is proof of how little care was shown to the events occurring by some of the leaders of this country, while other leaders hid in fear of their lives. If a black man can be killed for driving, why can mass groups of white people be allowed to destroy a building so important to this nation?
This does not have to be a fight between parties, you can be a Trump supporter or Conservative and agree that what took place was a childish show of anger that went too far, inciting fear and violence that did not need to be present. Let’s not let this divide us, instead we must use this tragic event as an example upon current and future generations of what cannot, what must not take place ever again.