Donald Trump supporters are known to be fanatical but the nation was in shock after they stormed the Capitol to protest the election results. The mid-day siege happened during Electoral College certification when hundreds of pro-Trump supporters broke barriers set up around the Capitol building and, after 90 minutes, they entered the building and doors to the House and Senate were locked, CNN reports. Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police. Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the chamber, where he was participating the electoral votes count. At 3:40 am, following the unrest, Pence announced Joe Biden/Kamala Harris’s victory in the election.
At least four people died and 52 people were arrested in D.C. according to the latest reports though more may be arrested in the next few days. NPR reports only one person was arrested on a felony charge of violating the Riot Act: Joshua Pruitt, 39, of Washington, D.C.who was taken into custody at the Capitol building, police said.
The violence was incited by Trump’s continued denial of the validity of the results of the election. Following reports of the chaos, Trump posted a video on his social media platforms telling the rioters “I love you”, calling them “special” and saying he knew how they feel before asking them to go home though he still maintains the false claim of election fraud.
Facebook Founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook had removed the president’s posts “because we judged that their effect – and likely their intent – would be to provoke further violence“. He announced that Trump is now blocked from both Facebook and Instagram (owned by FB) for at least two weeks until the transition of power is carried out when Biden is inaugurated on Jan.20. Trump’s preferred social platform, Twitter, banned him for 12 hours and removed three of his tweets for “severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy”. They also announced that if he continues to violate Twitter rules his account would be permanently suspended.
The sequence of events has shaken the nation but it’s also shined a light on the stark contrast between a mostly white group of far-right insurrectionists taking over the Capitol and the Black Lives Matter protests. Following the death of George Floyd while in police custody last summer, racial justice protests spread throughout the nation. At one point during that time federal police attacked peaceful protesters in Lafayette Square outside the White House, making way for Trump to take a photo in front of a nearby church for a photo-op.
Forbes reports that between May 30 and June 2 when protests were at their peak, 427 “unrest-related” arrests were made in D.C., including 24 juveniles, according to the police department. They add that on June 1, more than five times the number of people were arrested than those that raided the Capitol with a total of 289. The Washington Post reports a total of 14,000 were arrested across 49 cities in the U.S. during BLM protests. Yet only 52 so far have been arrested having violently stormed the Capitol of the nation.
People on social media had plenty to say about the treatment of the rioters versus the BLM protestors and the violent behavior of the Trump supporters as a representation of white privilege and domestic terrorism.
“It’s not any shock that we see this huge contradiction that we can storm a capitol … break into elected officials’ offices, the chamber, and create other chaos trying to perform a fascist coup, and we see little to no consequences,” Kofi Ademola, a local Chicago activist who helped organize civil rights protests told USA Today. “But Black protesters here in D.C. and Chicago, we’re heavily policed, brutalized, for literally saying, ‘Don’t kill us.’ There was no planned insurrections. We were literally just advocating for our lives. It speaks volumes about the values of this country. It doesn’t care about our lives.”