Far-Right mob Storms U.S. Capitol
On January 6th, thousands of Trump supporters and members of far-right militant groups stormed Washington, D.C. with overwhelming force. But what instigated this attack and how did thousands upon thousands of people (most not wearing masks amid a pandemic) organize this act of terror?
A major contributing factor is that after being faced with a losing election, Trump began challenging vote counts; when that failed he turned to the courts which objected his appeals. So, he used his influence to interfere with election processes. Even tweeting on January 6th “Get smart Republicans. FIGHT” as thousands of Trump supporters surrounded and forced their way past metal fences and into the capitol building, remaining inside for several hours.
The riot was in fact planned openly online for several months beforehand; law enforcement tracked social media but missed key signs ahead of the riot that could have indicated it was not simply a peaceful protest.
The FBI defines Domestic Terrorism as “Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.” Forced entry into a federal building, assaulting police officers and guards along with carrying illegal firearms constitutes an act of domestic terrorism.
After the first videos and stories emerged, many took to social media to question why these violent protestors appeared to face significantly less resistance than the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in previous months. With Trump famously tweeting “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” during the Black Lives Matter protests, he reacted much differently when large numbers his white supporters forced their way inside the capitol building. A photo emerged of a rioter seated with his feet on house speaker’s Nancy Pelosi’s desk, and another Trump supporter marched through the halls with a confederate flag. One man wearing a Trump hat even seized the house speaker’s podium and was seen carrying it away. These photos document a historic moment in American history; they will surely remain a reminder that hate is alive in the United States.
Capitol police were spread thin and did not receive adequate support from Washington police or national guard until much later, seeing as they had not contacted other law enforcement agencies until the building was completely surrounded by mobs of rioters. At least two officers died as a result of injuries inflicted by violent rioters.
“The police should have defined a hard line and there should have been consequences for crossing it,” said Frank Larkin, former Senate sergeant at arms who has planned for many security threats to the Capitol. “The fight should have been outside. Not inside. To have that confrontation at the door, that was a losing formula.”
In the coming days many politicians hope to invoke the 25th amendment to remove Trump from office and the Democrats plan to move forward with impeachment for the “incitement of insurrection” this monday when the House comes into session. It is suspected that new conflicts will arise in Washington come Joe Biden's inauguration on January 20th. The event is expected to be mostly virtual, but Biden and Harris will still be sworn in on the west front of the capitol where Trump supporters clashed with police just weeks before. Though the possibility of further riots is imminent, democracy will endure.