Trump supporters breach Capitol


Photo photo courtesy of Ted Eyton

Pro-Trump Rally 2017

Thousands of President Trump’s supporters who gathered for a rally on Wednesday to protest the election results quickly turned violent. After Trump announced that he won the election to a roaring audience, supporters marched to Capitol Hill and breached security to enter the Capitol building. Inside the Capitol, Congress was preparing to confirm the results of the electoral college vote to certify Joe Biden’s presidency. 

The debates about the counting of the electoral college votes were halted as protesters pushed past police and successfully entered the Capitol in the early afternoon. The building went into lockdown and legislators and members of the Senate were advised to shelter in place while the protesters looted and vandalized the building. Vice President Mike Pence was removed from the building by security for safety purposes. 

The protesters stormed the halls and decorated statues in the Capitol. Some sat at desks on the Senate floor, and photos released showed a man sitting in House Speaker Nancy Peolisi’s office and in the Senate chamber. For the first time in history, the Confederate flag was flown inside the Capitol. Many of the protesters were wearing costumes, carrying flags and signs, and one man stole a podium from the Senate. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser ordered a city-wide curfew for 6 p.m, and the National Guard was brought in to disperse the crowd. Bowser also declared a public emergency in D.C. until Jan. 21. At the end of the day, three people died from medical emergencies, one woman was fatally shot, one Capitol police officer from New Jersey died from his injuries and 14 D.C. police officers were also injured. 

Senior Henry Stewart, president of WHS’ chapter of the High School Democrats of America, said that he was disgusted with the events that transpired. “I never thought I would see this on my TV, showing scenes from my country. It looks like something that would happen somewhere else, out of sight, and largely out of mind.” 

Sophomore Stacey Salz shares Stewart’s concerns and was also upset, especially by the fact that there were rioters wearing neo-nazi apparel. In photos from the event, a man is wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt and another man was wearing a shirt with the abbreviation “6MWE,” which stands for “6 million wasn’t enough,” referencing the six million Jewish people who died in the Holocaust. Salz said, “As a Jewish person, I feel unsafe knowing that there are people like this still around that are proud to be supporting a mass genocide where millions of innocent Jews were brutally killed.” 

Salz also warned that the protesters’ lack of masks could put themselves and others at risk of contracting COVID-19. She said, “Not only were the protesters breaking countless laws when it came to destroying property and trespassing, but they were putting people’s lives in danger. Large gatherings are the reason that COVID-19 is spreading.”

Many were frustrated with the lack of action taken by law enforcement to put an end to the protest that continued to escalate, especially once there were weapons involved. One photo from the siege revealed a police officer taking selfies with the protestors and another video of one police officer trying to stop a mob of Trump supporters from entering the Capitol were circulated. “There is evidence that people knew this was going to happen, so law enforcement should have been better prepared and should have expected the worst,” said an anonymous senior. 

Americans on social media have noticed disparities between the presence of law enforcement at this coup in comparison to the extensive police presence and use of force at the Black Lives Matter protests. Stewart said, “We all know the question that has been posed so many times since the insurrection: how would law enforcement have prepared and responded to a similar insurrection by a minority group?” 

Americans are also arguing over if this coup is considered domestic terrorism. Stewart said, “This is absolutely domestic terrorism. There is no other way to describe it; these people quite literally terrorized our nation’s elected officials and indirectly terrorized all Americans who were watching what happened yesterday.” 

Yet, an anonymous sophomore expressed the opposite sentiment and said, “It was loitering at most.”

Also, disagreements over who is at fault for the siege have ensued. Stewart said, “Donald Trump directly encouraged this insurrection in his speech, and then abetted it with his Twitter posts.” 

Wroe had a different perspective. He said, “President Trump is not at fault for this, and although he did cause the protest, he didn’t cause the riot.”

In the aftermath of this historic event, many are wondering how to unify Americans and restore law and order. Senior Sebastian Wroe feels that this event “will contribute to division in the country between parties, and people will continue to become more defensive of their party.”

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, G. Zachary Terwilliger, also fears for the future of America. Terwilliger called Jan. 6 “the darkest day since 9/11.”