The Capitol attack that could have been prevented

By Shannon Garrido, Deputy Opinion Editor

On the day Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over incumbent President Donald Trump, a violent mob of pro-Trump insurrectionists attempted to overrun the Capitol building. 

Trump supporters stormed the typically peaceful Rotunda, touting confederate flags and shattering windows. Representatives huddled for shelter under tables. Five people died amid the chaos, including one woman shot and killed by police. Millions of Americans watched their televisions in horror as they saw their Capitol consumed by tear gas and anarchy. 

Wednesday’s attempted coup is the first major Capitol building breach in modern American history.

This leaves countless Americans to wonder: how did hundreds of people gain enough momentum and indignation to storm into the United States Capitol; trash the offices of Senators; pose with statues; and make a mockery out of democracy? 

Although there is no single answer, one thing is for sure: the anti-election rhetoric we have witnessed from the Republican party since Nov. 3 certainly fueled the fire. 

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While Senators and Representatives locked themselves inside their respective chambers with Capitol police guarding the door from mobs, Trump took to Twitter. In a now-deleted tweet, he spouted baseless claims of an election stolen by the Democrats. Meanwhile speaking in a sympathetic tone to members of the mob, adding “we love you, you’re very special,” into the message.

Rhetoric full of baseless conspiracy theories like this is what ignited the mob. According to a Washington Post survey from Dec. 15, more than 200 Republican members of Congress declined to take a stand on Biden’s election, while former Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department found no evidence of election fraud substantial enough to overturn the election results. The Post survey also reported out of the 249 Republicans in Congress, 129 Republicans support Trump’s continued efforts to falsely claim victory, while only 10 opposed them and more than 100 gave no answer. 

Slowly but surely the Republican party endorsed a distrust in the electoral process, which caused 70 percent of Republicans to believe that the 2020 presidential election was not fair and free, according to a poll by POLITICO.

Although this event was condemned by many prominent Republicans like former President George W. Bush, Vice President Mike Pence, and Sen. Mitch McConnell, there is no denying that the damage was done. 

On the morning of Jan. 6, just hours before the Capitol was mobbed, Trump tweeted:

“The States want to redo their votes. They found out they voted on a FRAUD. Legislatures never approved. Let them do it. BE STRONG!” 

Earlier, as his supporters marched on Capitol Hill, Trump gave a speech outside the White House urging Vice President Pence to overturn the election result. Later that same evening, CNN reported that Trump also tried to pressure Pence into engineering a coup.

This contempt over the election was reflected inside the House of Representatives chamber as a mob screamed, “Trump won that election!”, and outside as rioters ran past police into the Capitol, chanting, “We want Trump!” 

These people were misled into believing that they did a service to their country by storming a government building, and believed they could get away with it. Yet, the sad thing is that they did get away with it.

Although this uproar began at 2 p.m. when insurrectionists wearing body armor broke windows to get into the Capitol; the National Guard was not deployed until 5:20 p.m. Moreover, we have seen countless videos shared online of police officers doing little to nothing to defend the Capitol doors. 

In some instances, police officers opened the doors for the mobs to walk right in. Some officers took selfies and joked around with the rioters. All the while, the mob made their way up the steps of the Capitol, pushing through barricades while police wore little to no riot gear. In one instance, a video showed a single officer left to defend an entrance alone with nothing but a baton against an angry crowd.

These rioters were able to make it past the gates because President Trump allowed it. It was Pence who approved the order to deploy the National Guard. The president, who is still the commander in chief, did not give the order. One administration official suggested that the president did not want to be seen calling the National Guard against his own supporters. 

A Defense official said that 150 D.C.National Guard troops were en route to the Capitol at 5:20 p.m. to back up the police. When compared to the behavior of the police and the National Guard during the Black Lives Matter protests this summer, many have spoken out on how today’s events mirror how white privilege functions during times of crisis. 

Assistant professor Rashelle Litchmore, a cultural psychologist at Connecticut College, wrote to CTVNews about the event. 

“White people are given a slap on the wrist for treasonous protest because they are defending white supremacy.”

Likewise, Sandy Hudson, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto, also isn’t surprised by the police’s reaction to the storm in the Capitol. She called the actions of the pro-Trump extremists an “attempt at a coup.” Adding that, “It couldn’t be more clear that Black people are subject to intense repression by law enforcement, and it’s actually unbelievable that armed people were able to get so close to the Capitol with firearms and inside the Capitol with firearms,” she said on CTV News.

Today’s events will go down in the history books forever as the day that the United States Capital caved in upon itself.