Rachel Wong, Grade 11, Co-Editor-in-Chief
On January 6th, 2021, shock waves rippled through the country after Trump-supporting rioters stormed the Capitol. They were protesting the 2020 presidential election, which they believed to be fraudulent.
When Joe Biden was named the president-elect on November 8, President Trump claimed the election was stolen from him. He urged his supporters to travel to Washington for the “Save America March” in January when Congress planned to ceremonially count President-elect Joe Biden’s win. The chaos that ensued will go down in history as one of the saddest days the United States has had to endure.
Prior to the riot, Trump gave a speech nearby, telling his supporters to “fight much harder” against the “bad people.”
“You will have an illegitimate president … we can’t let that happen … It’s all part of the suppression effort,” declared Trump, moments before dispatching the crowds to the Capitol. “We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”
The crowd, filled with Proud Boys, QAnon conspirators, people carrying Nazi flags and wearing Nazi shirts, people wearing Make America Great Again hats and holding Trump flags, and people wearing eccentric costumes, marched to the Capitol. Breaking down the barricades that had been set up, they started to storm the Capitol steps. Some even scaled the walls of the building to get above the crowds.
“I remember watching the riots on January 6th and wondering whether our democracy would crumble right before my very eyes,” said Bernard Condon, a junior at the High School of American Studies. “Seeing the rioters storm the Capitol, the building at the core of our country, was harrowing but somewhat expected after four years of Trump.”
Rioters started breaking the windows and doors, trying to get in. Once they breached the entrance, they were met by one or two armed security guards who lacked the power to remove them. With the lack of response from authorities, the rioters had free reign in the Capitol. A man in a Viking helmet was pictured trying to take over the Senate. Another photo showed a man wearing a MAGA hat and sitting with his feet up at a government official’s desk. One man posed for a picture while stealing a government podium.
Congressmen, Congresswomen, Senators, and other officials were hiding behind courtroom seats. The few armed security guards present used podiums and other furniture to barricade the doors. They were given masks to protect themselves from tear gas, a last resort.
Meanwhile, the Washington state police enforcement did little to stop the crowds. People quickly noticed the disparity in the law enforcement’s treatment and reaction towards the “Save America March” compared to the Black Lives Matter protests that had taken place earlier in the year. Instagram and Twitter feeds were soon filled with images of the National Guard guarding the Capitol during the Black Lives Matter marches in Washington D.C., with the caption: “Just a reminder: this is what the National Guard looked like during the BLM protests.”
“It’s really disappointing that this is what America has come to; that peaceful protests fighting for equality would be treated more horribly than rioters who were looting from the Capitol,” said Talia Homer, a junior at HSAS. “The fact that some police officers were taking selfies with rioters shows how truly unequal our country has become.”
Everyone awaited President Trump's response, hoping he would tell them to retreat and go home. However, President-elect Joseph Biden was the first to denounce the riots. Making a quick speech, he called on Trump to call everyone home and end the violence.
Finally, after much chaos, Trump made a short video, saying, “I know your pain. 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. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order … This was a fraudulent election. But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Eventually, the crowds dispersed, and the Senate returned to session at 8 PM to continue counting the vote. However, the building was not deemed clear until 1:30 AM, nearly twelve hours after the chaos had begun.
Five people died as a result of the riot. One of them was Ashli Babbitt, a woman who was shot during a standoff between rioters and law enforcement in a stairwell outside the House Chamber.
January 6th, 2021 will have a lasting impact on America’s political scene. It was a disappointing day for America and should stand as a reminder of the atrocities Trump has committed and incited during his time as president.