Yesterday, January 6, 2020, our nation experienced the most damaging attack on the nation’s Capitol since the British burned it down during the War of 1812. The story goes like this: President Trump called on his supporters to rally at the Capitol in Washington DC as Congress was confirming president-elect Joe Biden’s win. Despite President Trump having lost both the popular vote and electoral college, he (and some of his supporters) continue to live in denial. This wasn’t a typical rally– Trump supporters sieged the Capitol. They breached security lines, scaled walls, and disrespected the very essence of our country as they entered the Capitol building. These people smashed windows, carried guns inside, and for the first time in all of the United State’s existence, brought the Confederate flag inside the Capitol.
The safety of lawmakers and staff inside the Capitol was feared for, and police worked to evacuate them as quickly as possible. Police locked the doors to the House chamber and barricaded it with a desk. Representatives were given “escape hoods.” There is an image of a man sitting at House speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk with his feet up, and another of a man carrying out the Capitol Podium, smiling.
CBS News and many news outlets have confirmed at least four people dead. As in any case of death, this is saddening, but we must look at the facts surrounding this day. President Trump called on his supporters to rally at the Capitol. He didn’t suggest they siege it, but his call to action and four years of damaging administration directly provoked what happened that day. There was no reason for Trump to dispute the election results, and especially no reasoning to encourage a rally protesting it.
What happened on January 6, 2020 in Washing DC is white privilege. We all know how differently this story would be told had the “rioters” been anything but white. In BLM protests police were quick to react violently with rubber (and sometimes real) bullets and mace, most of which were non-violent protests. Yet when it’s hundreds of white nationalists breaking into and vandalizing the Capitol, and attempting a coup, security miserably fails to protect. I don’t mean to compare these opposite fights, though. I’d rather compare yesterday’s events to when Ahmaud Arbery was hunted and killed while jogging, to when Breonna Taylor’s home was broken into by police and she was killed at their hands, and to the countless other violent acts targeting Black people.
The people who stormed the US Capitol are not rioters but domestic terrorists. They committed violent acts in the pursuit of Donald Trump’s administration meant to intimidate and coerce the public. The difference in how police handled this situation versus BLM protests is disturbing and extremely indicative of the racism this country continues to experience. This is Donald Trump’s America, but not for long.