Domestic Terrorism At The Capitol Building Showed Us There Are Two Americas

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Yesterday was a dark day for our country. The chaos left many of us feeling angry, shocked, and bewildered by the lack of good leadership in our country, and the fragility of those that used to violence in an attempt to overturn the electoral recount. What looked like a scene out of a Hollywood movie became reality for the United States of America. Leading up to this event was the unrest fueled by President Trump, who insisted the 2020 election was riddled with fraud, often stating that him and his supporters were robbed of a fair election. His words and actions cast doubts into millions of Americans as Trump continued to defy parts of the Constitution and pressured government officials to overturn the election in his favor. 

The New York Times shares: “’We’re seeing more and more citizens expressing openness to violence,’ Lee Drutman, a political scientist, told me almost three months ago, ‘as more and more partisan leaders engage in the kinds of dehumanizing rhetoric that paves the way for taking violent action.’” 

 
 
 
 
 
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The result? Utter chaos and mayhem took place at the Capitol building yesterday as radical right Trump supporters stormed into the federal building. “The protests were timed to coincide with Congress’ certification of the Electoral College votes and aim to pressure Republican lawmakers into supporting Trump’s effort to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory.”(NPR) The House of Representatives and the U.S. Senators were evacuated during this truly terrifying act of domestic terrorism. For a full breakdown of yesterday’s events, check out this article from NPR.

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The Two Americas

 

 
 
 
 
 
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As I was watching the news at home, I was absolutely shocked and appalled to see the crowds of white terrorists strolling through the Capitol Building, hanging out in the Senate Chamber as if it was a shared public space anyone could access. It dawned on me that the events unfolding before my eyes were much different from the videos I’ve seen of Black protesters fighting for racial equality as they were shot with rubber bullets and tear gassed by law enforcement last May.

On January 6, 2020, we witnessed law enforcement open the gates for unlawful pro-Trump protesters to commit violent acts of treason against the United States without nearly the same level of opposition compared to the handling of the Black Lives Matter protests. The level of restraint displayed by law enforcement was unbelievable — how could federal-level security literally trained for terrorist attacks allow for this to happen? Was this not an existential threat to the country? The unfortunate reality of Two Americas is this: we have been taught and conditioned to believe that terrorism can’t be white.

If the protesters had been POC, we would have witnessed a massacre. There would have been little to no restraint from law enforcement, and President Trump would have been quick to issue a statement condemning these acts, and labeling them as terrorists, thugs, and animals. Instead, the white domestic terrorists were told they were special, that they are loved, and that they were robbed. The past four years have built up to this very moment — the President’s support and empowerment of the radical right has led them to falsely believe that this was a show of true patriotism, and the little pushback from those who are supposed to “protect and serve” this country further perpetuates this harmful narrative.

“The unfortunate reality of Two Americas is this: we have been taught and conditioned to believe that terrorism can’t be white.”

Yesterday’s events highlight the very evils of white supremacy that BIPOC have been fighting against for decades. On one hand, we have minority racial groups literally fighting for their lives, for equal treatment, and for justice to be served. On the other hand, we have an alarming number of radical white nationalists fighting to overturn an election because they didn’t get their way.

These radical Trump supporters are more interested in protecting conservative values — many of which are deeply rooted in racial privilege and the white supremacy. The contrast between the treatment of minority racial groups and white folks are clear as day. Let’s not forget when BLM protesters were tear gassed last May by national law enforcement to clear the way for President Trump’s photo op with a bible in front of a church. Or when the National Guard was called in for peaceful protesters in light of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. Or when President Trump tweeted this, yet was strangely silent about it yesterday:

 
 
 
 
 
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The Aftermath

The Washington Post is sharing live updates about the aftermath of yesterday’s act of domestic terrorism:

“D.C. police said they arrested 69 people from at least 20 states and the District from Wednesday afternoon through early Thursday, most on curfew and unlawful entry charges. That brings to at least 79 the number of people arrested by D.C. police since Tuesday afternoon. Capitol Police said that agency arrested 14 others.” (Source)

“D.C. police identified three people who died at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday of presumed medical emergencies during the mob takeover of the building as a 34-year-old from Georgia, a 50-year-old from Pennsylvania and a 55-year-old from Alabama.” (Source)

Additionally, house lawmakers are grateful for the officers who performed their duties yesterday but are calling for an evaluation of the Capitol law enforcement for the overall failure in handling the attempted coup. 

“However, the breach of the Capitol raises serious questions about what law enforcement did and what they should have done differently.” (Source)

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Yesterday’s events at the Capitol building are weighing heavily on all of us. If you need support, don’t hesitate to reach out. Please feel free to continue a respectful discussion in the comments of this article.


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