Armed Pro-Trump supporters, which included white supremacists and terrorists, violently attacked the U.S Capitol, the home of U.S democracy. The insurrection temporarily halted Congress and Senate proceedings on Wednesday 6th January 2020.
During an address on that fateful day, President Trump told thousands of his loyal supporters at the Ellipse in Washington to march on to the Capitol and to put pressure on Congress “peacefully and patriotically”. But he also used the words “fight” and “fighting” a total of 20 times.
Trump said he would go along with his supporters to the Capitol. But after his speech, he left in his motorcade to drive back to the White House. What followed was a horrific and deadly insurrection. Thousands of pro-Trump militants were armed, angry, and ready for conflict.
During summer protests in 2020 for the Black Lives Matter movement, police killed many unarmed Black civilians – but in comparison, some of the Capitol protestors even posed for photos with members of security as they breached security defences.
During Trump’s 74 minute ramble, he referred to the media as the “enemy of the people” and targeted his Vice President, Mike Pence, who earlier declared to Congress he did not have any power to reverse the election result. Trump stated: “We’re going to have to fight much harder and Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us”.
A Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, has died after being reportedly attacked with a fire extinguisher. The attack also left four other people dead. The U.S. Capitol Police turned down offers of support from the National Guard and the FBI before protesters started smashing into the Capitol and violence ensued.
Many people on social media voiced their strong opinions:
These are your terrorists. Don’t you dare compare them to anyone else. They are the culmination of the white supremacy that has nourished this nation since it’s inception.
If this was a BLM protest, this would’ve been America’s version of the Rabaa massacre.
— Dr. Omar Suleiman (@omarsuleiman504) January 6, 2021
President Trump did not condemn the violent protestors. Instead, he appeared on video repeating the false claim of voter fraud. He eventually conceded on Friday 8th January tweeting a video which condemned the Capitol protesters after the damage had been done.
On the same day, Twitter permanently suspended President Trump’s account cutting off the line of communication to his 89 million followers. Facebook has also temporarily suspended Trump’s posts, but it will be reviewed after the transition of power to Joe Biden on 20th January 2021.
World leaders and human rights organisations have also expressed their disapproval. Speaking at a virtual event organised by Bavaria’s conservative CSU party, German chancellor Angela Merkel said: “I deeply regret that President Trump has not conceded defeat since November, and again refused to do so yesterday. Doubts about the outcome of the election have been stoked, and that set the atmosphere which made the events of the [last] night possible.”
The President’s embrace of white supremacist and violent groups has further fanned the flames of the chaos and violence we witnessed today, putting human rights and the rule of law at grave risk in the United States.”
He continued to state: “This is a moment of reckoning for the United States. President Trump has repeatedly encouraged violence and disorder by his supporters affecting journalists, activists, faith communities, and others. These are not the actions of a head of state who has an obligation to ensure the safety of all people under his jurisdiction. All public officials must condemn words and actions that fuel hatred and intimidation.”
According to BBC News, Jacob Anthony Chansley, (known as Jake Angeli) who calls himself the “QAnon Shaman”, is allegedly the man pictured with a painted face, fur hat and horns inside Congress on Wednesday. He is currently in custody on charges including violent entry and disorderly conduct.
QAnon is one of the most peculiar and manipulative conspiracy theory groups to exist, and makes many dangerous unfounded accusations but is unable to provide any real evidence. The use of social media has been its driving force in disseminating fake news and misinformation about Muslims, Black Lives Matter protests, the 2020 US elections, and strengthening existing anti-vaccination theories to increase their worldwide profile.
At the time of writing this article (Sunday, 10th of January), there are 120 people facing criminal charges. According to The Associated Press, who reviewed social media posts, voter registrations, court files, and public records for those identified using pictures and videos from the insurrection, the “evidence gives lie to claims by right-wing pundits and Republican officials such as Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., that the violence was perpetrated by left-wing Antifa thugs rather than supporters of the president.”
Derrick Evans, a West Virginia state lawmaker who is a staunch Trump supporter recorded a Facebook Live video in which he can be heard shouting, “We’re in! We’re in, baby!” while moving among a crowd of rioters as he walked through a doorway of the Capitol. US officials have now opened 25 domestic terrorism investigations and this could be set to increase.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote in a letter to House Democrats on Sunday 10th January, describing President Trump as an urgent threat to the nation: “In protecting our constitution and our democracy, we will act with urgency, because this President represents an imminent threat to both.”
The House is expected to go ahead with a non-binding resolution calling on U.S Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, to remove Trump from office for “his incitement of insurrection”. The 25th Amendment allows the vice-president to become acting president when a president is unable to continue his duties.
If this does not go ahead, Pelosi is ready to start second impeachment proceedings. If the impeachment is successful, it means that President Trump will lose benefits that have been granted under the 1958 Former Presidents Act including a pension, health insurance and security detail at taxpayers’ expense.
President Trump has unsurprisingly refused to attend President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on 20th January 2021.