Staff Editorial: The Breach of the Capitol


Flickr User Blink O'fanaye

The pro-Trump mob stand outside the Capitol.

On Jan. 6, pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress counted electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden won the presidential election. The rioters got past Capitol Police and trespassed into the Capitol building, causing members of Congress to take shelter. 

Similar to how we’ve heard about many other major national events, we initially found out about the insurrection from social media before turning to the news to form a greater understanding of what was transpiring. The news spread quickly on social media; we watched our timelines fill with commentary on the riot. We felt as though we were in a dystopian movie as we watched the rioters fill the Capitol building, something we never thought could happen. But, one thing we understood immediately was Jan. 6 would be a day that would go down in history. 

We are very disappointed, to say the least, in the riot that took place Wednesday; however, we were not surprised. Tensions have been high for a long time due to the current partisan political climate. We have felt the effects of the hyper-polarized political climate for the last four years and especially during the election. 

On Dec. 19, President Trump took to Twitter, promoting the protest taking place during the electoral vote count. 

Therefore, we were not surprised that these tensions and Trump’s encouragement of protests amounted to a riot.

Participants in the mob climb up the walls surrounding the Capitol. (Flickr User Blink O’fanaye)

We were greatly disappointed to see our government in disarray with representatives of Congress in danger and the Capitol Building compromised. 

It was very disheartening to watch the Capitol fill with rioters donning Confederate flags and Camp Auschwitz t-shirts. Throughout our lives, we have been taught about the brutality of slavery and the Holocaust, and we never believed we would witness symbols of some of the greatest human rights abuses in history being paraded with pride inside our nation’s Capitol. We were disappointed seeing photos of federal crimes occurring as offices were vandalized, and a man proudly held mail stolen from the Speaker of the House’s office. Additionally, a majority of the people were not wearing masks during the height of a pandemic.

We were surprised, however, by the response to the riot and the lack of preparedness by the Capitol Police. Over the summer, we saw police surrounding the Capitol in riot gear as Black Lives Matter protesters were getting tear gassed, shot by rubber bullets and arrested.

The maskless mob gathers with Trump flags in hand. (Flickr User Blink O’fanaye)

We were taken aback on Wednesday by how easily the rioters were able to enter the Capitol building and even more surprising to see videos of them taking selfies with the police. Wednesday’s riot had 52 arrests in comparison to the 427 arrests at the summer Washington DC BLM protests. Comparing the police response to Wednesday’s primarily white riot and the summer’s BLM protests, we think that the disparity in the use of force further demonstrates the role that race played in the police response.

Witnessing the riot that occurred Wednesday was a surreal experience. We feel it serves as a symbol of racism in our country, the damaging effects of the partisan political climate and the fragility of the democracy we are inheriting. Coming of age in this current political climate and witnessing its failings–such as in the events on Wednesday–we can’t help but come away with the hope that we as a generation will and can do better. We can become informed citizens who hold our politicians accountable, reject hate and racism and get involved with organizations who support the changes we wish to see.

The purpose of the staff editorial is to start a conversation. The editorial topic and stance are discussed and agreed on by all members of the editorial board. While only one editor writes the article and the editorial may not represent each editor’s opinion 100%, it does represent an editorial consensus. Again, the purpose is discussion. Let us know what you think through Twitter @SCNNewspaper and email at [email protected].