Domestic Terrorists Strike at Capitol Hill – An Attack on Democracy

Jose Carlos Serrano

General Overview:

What has happened at Capitol Hill on January 6th is not only shocking but shows us the current state of the United States of America. For those who don’t know, supporters mobilized by current President Donald J. Trump stormed Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. in an attempt to stop Congress from ratifying Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. This attempted siege was only inevitable. Following what we’ve been hearing from President Trump on Twitter after the results of the election. It was an attack not only on the American people but on democracy itself. 

The events preceding the attack on Congress as the House was deliberately done to prevent Congress from ratifying Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. Passionate speeches about the importance of upholding the Constitution and the peaceful transition of power were spoken while many Republicans were still defending the President’s claims, such as United States Senator Ted Cruz and others. Prominent and long-time advocates for the President such as Vice President Mike Pence and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnel were speaking out against the President’s false claims of election fraud and encouraging a peaceful transition of power. While all this was happening inside, protests and crowds were already gathering in the front of the Capitol, having been cheered on by the President himself at an earlier rally.

Soon the crowds outside grew and as hundreds began to trespass on the Capitol Building’s balcony and attempts were made to break in, Congress and the Senate were forced to evacuate.  The terrorists made their way in by forcing their way past security and breaking windows. Many of these men and women were armed with military grade arsenals as they stormed in. Many waved Confederate flags with pride, echoing the long promise of the Confederacy to “rise again” after the events of the Civil War. These are the flags that stand for white supremacy and sparked the creation of numerous terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Red Shirts. These flags, waved by modern-day Americans, and in this case, Trump supporters, is saddening and shocking as the United States is supposed to stand as a free country while we still have people advocating and calling for white supremacy and the discrimination of African American, Jewish American, and other communities.                

The terrorists were met with minimal resistance when they entered. Many have contrasted the lack of security to the police forces that have met with the peaceful Black Lives Matter protests in the summer. During the BLM protests, law enforcement was strict, arresting anyone who failed to step back when instructed. Hundreds of people were arrested during those protests, while only 68 people were arrested during the attack of Capitol Hill. Some of the security at the Capitol were negligent in their duty to protect the Capitol, ushering people into the building and taking photos with them. The attack was unfortunately predictable as we have been seeing Donald Trump and his acolytes constantly lying and bringing doubt in the 2020 election and how it was stolen from him. During the assault, it took several hours before Trump decided to post a video on twitter telling the rioters to “Go home.” and added that they are “great people,” saying “We love you. You are very special.” Many kept on with the riot until Vice President Pence called for the storming of the Capitol to be immediately stopped. Still, not many listened to him due to the fact that during the congressional meeting to approve Joe Biden, Pence accepted the results of the election and Trump promptly tweeted, “Vice President Mike Pence lacked the courage to do what was necessary” when referring to his acceptance of the election results. It was because of the President and his consistent tweets to encourage and incite violence that resulted in this. 


After the crowd began to dwindle and invaders of the Capitol were removed, law enforcement began to close in, pushing the insurrectionists further away from the Capitol Building, the whole affair lasting into the night. Congress met up again at 8 P.M. in the evening to ratify Joe Biden as the next President and the Senate to address any objections. Many Republican Senators, in light of recent events, changed their minds on any objections they supported or brought forth. Objections were outvoted, and Congress proceeded to ratify Joe Biden as the next President of the United States. Due to poor and corrupt security, Nancy Pelosi called for the Chief of Capitol Police to resign which he did a day later. Reports were turned in that five people were killed in the Capitol Building, one of which being a police officer. Many White House officials and a few members of President Trump’s Cabinet resigned due to the insurrection. The same day as the Police Chief resigned, Trump posted a video on Twitter saying the men and women who stormed the Capitol would be prosecuted and they are not American Patriots. Quite contradictory to how he called them heroes and mentioned how the election was stolen in the video before. To even make the first video, officials reported they had to plead with him to do so. It’s obvious that these most recent remarks weren’t said in sincerity but to simply protect himself as many Republicans turned on him. Pelosi and others have called to invoke the 25th amendment and if that’s not possible to impeach again. There haven’t been many official attempts to do so but most recently, Trump’s Twitter account was permanently removed to prevent any more encouraged acts of violence on his account. His last tweet mentioning how he won’t attend Biden’s inauguration. There hasn’t been much word from the President but as the Trump Presidency ends in around a week, I would expect him to say something soon.                                

The Community’s Response:

These events have left the American people enraged and disappointed in the current state of our country and how this insurrection was allowed to happen. Many have noted how the United States was supposed to be a “beacon of light” for people and this doesn’t represent the country they envisioned. Politicians and others have noted that this event doesn’t represent America and these people don’t represent our country. My Godfather, James R. Vreeland, Professor of Political and International Affairs at Princeton University offers his intel and thoughts on the insurrection. “The United States President, having lost the election, incited a         mob of people to prevent Congress from accepting the results of the election. This illegal action cannot stand unanswered. If we fail to take action, and there are no consequences, what kind of a signal does this send to people who disagree with election results in the future?” Professor Vreeland goes on to mention, “Along with thousands of other political scientists, led by Professor Brendan Nyhan of Dartmouth College, I have signed an open letter calling for President Trump to be removed from office through impeachment process or by invoking the 25th amendment. As the letter explains, political scientists do not usually take positions on politics, but rather to explain politics. However, in this case, we have witnessed a violation of democratic values and a failure to defend the United States Constitution.” In terms of the student response to this, Daisy Koffler, an 11th grader at WESS, a member of the Wess Side Stories Newspaper, discusses her thoughts on the attempted coup of Capitol Hill. “This event tells us that our democracy is fragile and requires leaders that positively engage citizens in politics, rather than appealing to white supremacists in America.” Koffler continues with, “The government’s next steps should be punishing as many of the insurrectionists as they can and absolutely invoking the 25th Amendment to get Trump out of office now and preventing him from re-election in the future.”


Final Remarks:

The attempted coup of Capitol Hill was embarrassing, immensely violent, and shouldn’t have happened. As a country that the world looks up to, our reputation has been stained. We entered into a dark place in modern-day American history. The domestic terrorists including Confederates, Neo-Nazis, and other racists who attacked the Capitol, should be tracked down and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Bloodshed took place in the Capitol because of these people, they set fright in many, and this act of assault showed us how vulnerable Capitol Hill was and how security and protective measures need to be reformed and improved. This happened because of one man, the frightening power that an unhinged President can have frightens us all. This mob shows us how our country needs to get better, almost all people who stormed the Capitol were allowed to walk home free which is disappointing and frankly disgusting. I hope for the 25th amendment to be invoked or an impeachment process to take place again, as Donald Trump is not fit to be the President of the United States.