Disenfranchised Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol, Leaving 5 Dead

Disenfranchised Mob Attacks U.S. Capitol, Leaving 5 Dead

Jacob Durbin, Writer

    On January 6, 2021, Congress met for the historically-ceremonial joint session of the House and Senate to officially count and ratify the results of the electoral college vote. However, nobody began the day expecting the mayhem that would later ensue.

    Although his loss to now-Democratic President Joe Biden had been apparent for months and the results had been officially certified by the states for weeks, President Donald Trump had remained relentless in his claims of “widespread voter fraud”, insisting that the election had been stolen from him. And despite losing over 60 court cases and multiple recount challenges; many Congressional Republicans still backed these assertions. Enough so, that they planned on objecting to the results during the joint session; a rare practice that has not been exercised since the 2004 election. But with split-party control, it was a foregone conclusion that none of these challenges would come close to passing, and would merely be a symbolic gesture of loyalty to the President in his fight to overrule the result.

     As Congress convened to count the votes, Trump spoke at a “Stop the Steal March” with his supporters, encouraging them to march on the Capitol to pressure more Congressional members to join in his cause. But what began as a rowdy but non-violent protest quickly devolved into chaos; which might have been the intention from the start. Trump sympathizers, bearing flags with his name, the symbols of the Confederacy, and other right-wing paraphernalia, began to aggressively charge the entrance of the U.S. Capitol. 

     The mob instantly overwhelmed the surprisingly under-prepared Capitol police, and eventually charged through the doors and windows. The joint session was forced to halt and members of Congress swiftly took shelter or evacuated the building. The siege on the Capitol would last around a few hours, with Trump supporters intent on committing violent acts of terror damaging property, roaming the chambers of Congress, and injuring many officers while killing one, Officer Brian Sicknick. A woman attempting to charge the Capitol was killed by police, and 3 others at the event died from medical emergencies.

     Eventually, the D.C. National Guard was deployed to reinforce the Capitol Police and reclaim control of the premises. Some reports say that Trump was hesitant to call in the Guard against his own supporters, and that it was actually Vice President Mike Pence who gave the order to call for their backup when the mob grew increasingly volatile. When the smoke finally cleared and the building was secured, Congress resumed their session and officially certified Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next President and Vice President of the United States of America.

     However, the fallout from the day’s events were just beginning. Many have since called for the immediate removal of President Trump, citing him as the primary instigator of the insurrectionist mob. One video in particular is cited as proof of this. Trump released a short 1-minute clip on his Twitter, telling his supporters at the Capitol “We love you, you’re very special, but go home.” He also continued to insist the election had been stolen in the video. The reasoning behind the sharp criticisms of his rhetoric and overall tone was exemplified in this message.

   Amid rumblings of being removed by his own cabinet via the 25th amendment, Trump would later release a video finally condemning the violence, and conceding the election 3 months after his loss on November 7th, saying in a short speech “a new administration will be inaugurated on January 20th.”

     After the unprecedented assault on a cornerstone of American democracy–the Capitol hadn’t been breached since 1814 by the British–Trump and the mob of his supporters responsible for the attack have been targeted by members of both parties in Washington. In his return to the Senate floor, Republican Senator Mitt Romney said in a harsh rebuke of the President, “We gather here today due to a selfish man’s injured pride and the outrage of supporters he deliberately misinformed for months, and stirred to action this very morning.” 

     Other members of the President’s party have also voiced their concerns. Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK) called for his resignation, while Ben Sasse (R-NE) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) both suggested Trump had committed “impeachable offenses.”

     House Democrats, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), introduced and subsequently passed a single article of impeachment against Trump, making him the first President to ever be impeached twice. 10 House Republicans joined all 222 Democrats in the vote to impeach.  It remains unclear whether there will be enough support from Republicans in the Senate to convict the President, and the official trial will likely not occur until after he has left office. However, many still view it  worthwhile to convict him, since it would bar him from running for office again and would set the precedent that a President cannot incite this kind of event again.

     In the following days, Trump has been banned from a plethora of social media apps–namely Twitter and Facebook, with the companies citing the risk of violent acts from his words as too costly to allow him on their platforms any longer. Corporations have also begun to distance themselves from Trump and his allies in Congress, pulling funding from many campaigns. A multitude of newspapers have also called for his resignation, including the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board.

     The FBI investigation into the riots are well underway. Hundreds of arrests have been made, including a West Virginia state Congressman, an Air Force veteran, and several off-duty police officers. It is still ongoing, and the FBI is asking anyone who can identify the perpetrators to come forward anonymously.

     While the full political and societal aftermath of January 6th’s events are not yet fully clear, it does seem apparent that this day will be remembered as one of the darkest days in modern American history, and may leave a stain on the U.S.’s world image not so easily erased

The Biden era officially began when he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were inaugurated on January. 20th, 2021. Trump did not attend, but Pence was present at the ceremony. Additional security will be ready in the case of another terrorist threat, with over 25,000 national guard troops and extensive Secret service presence.

 

Update: As of March 4, 2021, Donald Trump was acquitted from charges by the House impeachment managers of “Incitement of Insurrection” by a 57-43 vote. Seven Republican senators–Mitt Romney (R-UT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Richard Burr (R-NC) joined every Democrat in voting to convict, making it by far the most bipartisan Senate impeachment vote in United States history.

     However, it still did not reach the necessary ⅔ margin of 67 votes to convict. Trump still faces a multitude of possible charges at the federal and state levels, and his future in politics remains unclear at this point in time.