On Jan. 6, avid Trump supporters and other conservative, right-wing groups breached and stormed the U.S. Capitol and destroyed thousands of dollars worth of property. They even threatened the lives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Vice President Mike Pence, who was in charge of leading the certification of electoral votes that day. The siege was eventually labeled as a domestic terrorist act, sending several participants to jail.
Groups like the Proud Boys, Boogaloo Boys, Qanon, neo-nazis, white supremacists, Trump supporters, and others joined to protest the loss of Trump’s second term of presidency. They hoped to derail the electoral vote counting process. In the process, rioters damaged capitol windows and doors and left graffiti throughout the iconic Washington D.C. building. There was also damage to historical property, both intentional and also caused by pepper spray, tear gas and fire extinguisher remnants.
While police officers and law enforcement officials did their absolute best to handle the breach, it was initially outside of their limitations. Many of the insurgents were armed and lashing out in violence which made it difficult for law enforcement to penetrate. Law enforcement was initially outnumbered.
Marshfield high school’s history and government teacher, Garrett King, agrees that most of the police officers did their best that day. There was a lack of preparation and communication regarding the event, which was advertised on social media ahead of time.
“Based on my understanding of the reporting that happened, the officers who were on the ground that day did everything they could,” King said. “The overall leadership of the police force there that day was lacking. It wasn’t the actual police officers fault, it was the planning and preparation that was faulty.”
It is believed that Trump incited the riot with his public speeches and his tweets online. Following two months of failing to accept the results of November’s presidential election, Trump made speeches and social media comments that rallied his most faithful supporters.
“I know your pain,” Trump said. “I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side…”
In efforts to quell the January riots and stop future events, many social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, banned Trump’s account. They ceased his direct communication with supporters and removed the harmful content, citing it as against their regulations for inciting violence.
Since January 6, the FBI has made upward of 135 arrests in connection with the U.S. Capitol breach. Items and electronics from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been identified in people’s cars and homes, as well as being sold online. The FBI and other sources have been able to identify protesters through photos and videos online and have led to many arrests and people being fired from their jobs. King believes that violence should never be the answer.
“I think anytime people use violence for any cause they need to be held accountable for those actions,” he said. “There was the same outcry this summer for the BLM protests that the people who were being violent and burning down buildings there should be held accountable and arrested; and it’s no different here.”