Riot at the Capitol

Liv Acree, Reporter

On January 6th, 2021, a mob of Trump supporters swarmed the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. in an effort to stop the process of the counting of electoral votes, which would confirm then-President-elect Joe Biden’s win. A few hours prior to the domestic terrorist attack, Donald Trump made an announcement to his supporters: “I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard.” The demonstration was anything but peaceful, and damage consisted largely of broken glass, kicked in doors, and graffiti. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office was broken into, and a message left on her desk read “WE WILL NOT BACK DOWN.” For the first time in U.S. history, Confederate flags were walked through the halls of the Capitol.

At the insurrection, there was a prominent population of believers in the QAnon conspiracy, a movement that works to spread false information about COVID-19, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and the 2020 Election. One man was shown wearing a shirt with a large Q, and the phrase “trust the plan,” which has become one of the conspiracy’s slogans. The Neo-Nazi group NSC-131 also joined the riot, with an image on Twitter depicting a card with “NSC-131 2020” written on it, and a caption that read “the US Capitol building is now a 131 zone.” One man was seen wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt with “staff” written on the back, along with another mob member who wore a shirt printed with “6MWE”, or “six million wasn’t enough,” referencing the number of Jews murdered in the Holocaust. There was another image of a man carrying a swastika flag. The mob began destroying camera equipment from The Associated Press, and made a noose out of the cords. Among the crowd were members of the Proud Boys, a violent far-right group that Trump once told to “stand back and stand by” during the September presidential debate.

The attack was also deadly. Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer, was beaten to death by rioters. Four of the domestic terrorists also died. In recent weeks, over 400 suspects have been identified and 135 arrested, with the numbers growing by the hour. The account @homegrownterrorists on Instagram has daily updates and is working with federal agencies to identify everyone at the insurrection.

Some Capitol police officers, like Eugene Goodman, still made an impact in preventing violence. A video was captured of Officer Goodman facing rioters and diverting them from the Senate chamber, potentially saving lives. He was later honored as the official escort of Vice President Kamala Harris in the Presidential Inauguration on January 20th. His name was met with great applause as he stood where the rioters breached the building exactly two weeks earlier.

Most images from the attack rarely depict people wearing masks, leading some to hypothesize that the Capitol riot was a super-spreader event for COVID-19. “Many rioters were yelling, not wearing masks, and there was little to no social distancing– all actions that allow COVID to easily spread,” notes Dr. Beth Linas, an infectious disease epidemiologist. Previous Trump rallies have been linked to over 30,000 infections and 700 deaths. The insurrection that took place at the Capitol on January 6th was undoubtedly a devastating and tragic event. Things look up as justice is being served to those who participated in the riot, and people like Eugene Goodman get the recognition they deserve. Many hope that this will be a learning opportunity for us as the generation of the future.