On Jan. 6, I watched in horror as what should have been a simple counting of electoral votes turned into a deadly riot lasting into the late hours of the day. Not only did D.C. see a wave of thousands of violent rioters, but state capitols nationwide saw a range of protests. Thankfully, the protest that took place at the Idaho Capitol remained peaceful, though that was not the case for several other states.
Almost every day since, law enforcement and investigative agencies have uncovered darker schemes revolving around these riots, clearly indicating that it was a planned coup and incited by President Trump himself. This riot was meant to be worse; according to David Graham at The Atlantic, radicals within the mob aimed to kidnap and possibly even kill the vice president, members of Congress and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “The rioters came within moments of catching up to Vice President Mike Pence,” David Graham said in his article from The Atlantic.
A video quickly circulated on social media of a woman shot and killed during the protest, a terrifying look into the mentality of the mob. Sadly, the violence first reported was not an accurate description of the insurgence on the capitol. Two capitol police officers died after the assault, one by suicide.
Even though many claim that violence was never the intent, reporters, journalists and witnesses all attest to hearing cries wanting to kill specific government officials throughout the riot. Along with that, rioters had a gallows set up at the National Mall. Clearly, the intent to kill was live and well.
Another alarming aspect of the Jan. 6 riot, one that was clear to many from the start, was the clear difference between this riot and the many peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, which had police officers arresting innocent protestors. President Trump himself called BLM protestors and rioters “thugs” time and time again. However, on Jan. 6, he told his violent, MAGA-loving rioters that “we love you. You’re very special” in a video addressing the rioters.
On Jan. 14, The Washington Post published an article clearly detailing the differences between the 2020 BLM protests and the surge on the capitol. The article highlights the terrifying truth that white rioters flooded the capitol building with little resistance. Videos and pictures show them walking through the halls, taking selfies with officers and stealing things. However, when BLM protestors marched the capitol in protest of the murder of George Floyd, an army of federal agents met them with rubber bullets and chemical weapons.
Any possible argument against the existence of white privilege is simply laughable, especially now. Photos circulated on social media comparing officers meeting Black BLM protestors with raised guns to facing violent white rioters with no weapons raised. What is also ironic is a number of said white protestors carried Blue Lives Matter flags, which was a movement created in opposition to BLM and in support of police officers, when aggravating the officers.
It has also been clear from the start that Trump incited the riots. The BBC published an article on Jan. 13 noting five quotes from Trump’s 70-minute speech held before Congress met to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win. These quotes also appear in the article of impeachment charge sheet against Trump. One that the BBC argues will be the hardest for Trump’s lawyers to defend is “If you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
Not only did Trump make a number of alarming statements, but he also had no intention to call in the National Guard. According to The Atlantic, “[Trump] actively resisted calling out the National Guard, a task that reportedly fell to the besieged Pence. He was induced by his horrified staff to condemn the mob, but reportedly regrets doing so.”
It has also been discovered much too late that the riot had been planned weeks in advance online, right in the open. An analysis found that the phrase “storm the capitol” had been used over 100,00 times across the internet in the months leading up to the riot.
Despite this, law enforcement clearly did little preparing for the violent coup; “While thousands of National Guard troops were posted throughout Washington, DC, during Black Lives Matter protests, the DC National Guard was not deployed [Jan. 6] until well after the Capitol’s perimeters had been breached.”
Though it would be nice to say that at the very least, it’s all over now, but that is simply not the case. The FBI has made a number of warnings that armed protests are being planned across all 50 states. It is absolutely terrifying to see that we are suddenly living in the midst of a dystopian horror film, and I can only hope that next time preparations are made to stop the violence before it occurs.