Wednesday, January 06, 2021

Insurrection at the United States Capitol

The day America’s “Citadel of Liberty” fell
to Trump’s minions of extremism and chaos

Incredible scenes today from Washington, D.C. as supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump attempted a coup by storming – and for several hours overrunning – the United States Capitol, America’s “citadel of liberty” and “temple of democracy.”

Trump, who continues to baselessly claim that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him, has been rallying his hardcore supporters for weeks to show-up today at the Capitol where President-Elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win was to be certified by congress. The storming of the building by Trump’s mob halted that procedure, one that for the past 150 years has been key to the peaceful transfer of power in American politics.

Given Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, today’s violence was not surprising. What was surprising, indeed shocking to many, was the lack of preparedness by both Capitol security and D.C. police. You can be sure that if it had been a Black Lives Matter protest, there would have been no such lack of preparedness. Indeed, as past responses by authorities to BLM events have shown, it would have been the opposite, with militarized police and armored vehicles in abundance. No such deterrents greeted the white supporters of Trump, however; an example of white privelege if ever there was one.

Following are images and quotes of note regarding today’s momentous events at the Capitol.


Today’s violence at the US Capitol, a national disgrace, is the inevitable result of the endless lies about the election spread by President Trump and his supporters. Here we see the result of these lies, the fruit of sin: anger, hatred, discord, despair and violence. This is what sin does, especially sin on such a large scale. “And by their fruits you will know them” (Mt 7:20).

James Martin, SJ
January 6, 2021

Trump had urged his supporters for weeks to descend on Washington, D.C., to stop what he insisted was the stealing of the election. They did so and, this morning, began to congregate near the Capitol, where the counting [of Electoral College votes] would take place. . . . In the middle of the day, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani spoke to the crowd, telling them: “Let’s have trial by combat.” Trump followed, lying that he had won the election and saying “we are going to have to fight much harder.” He warned that [Vice-President Mike] Pence had better “come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country.” He warned that Chinese-driven socialists are taking over the country. And he told them to march on Congress to “save our democracy.”

As rioters took Trump at his word, Congress was counting the votes alphabetically by state. When they got to Arizona, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) stood up to echo the rhetoric [that Trump extremists] had been using to discredit the certified votes, saying that public distrust in the election – created out of thin air by Republicans – justified an investigation.

Within an hour, a violent mob stormed the Capitol and Cruz, along with the rest of the lawmakers, was rushed to safety (four quick-thinking staffers brought along the electoral ballots, in their ceremonial boxes). As the rioters broke in, police shot and killed one of them: Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran from San Diego, QAnon believer, and staunch Trump supporter. The insurrectionists broke into the Senate chamber, where one was photographed on the dais of the Senate, shirtless and wearing a bull costume that revealed a Ku Klux Klan tattoo on his abdomen. [NOTE: The tattoo is actually of an old Norse runic symbol called the “valknut,” or “knot of the slain,” that has been appropriated by white supremacists.] They roamed the Capitol looking for Pence and other lawmakers they considered enemies. Not finding them, they ransacked offices. One rioter photographed himself sitting at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk with his feet on it.

They carried with them the Confederate flag.

Capitol police provided little obstruction, apparently eager to avoid confrontations that could be used as propaganda on social media. The intruders seemed a little surprised at their success, taking selfies and wandering around like tourists. One stole a lectern.

As the White House, the FBI, the Justice Department, and the Department of Homeland Security all remained silent, President-Elect Joe Biden spoke to cameras urging calm and calling on Trump to tell his supporters to go home. But CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins later reported that she spoke to White House officials who were “genuinely freaked out” that Trump was “borderline enthusiastic” about the storming of the Capitol because “it meant the certification was being derailed.”

At 4:17, Trump issued his own video, reiterating his false claims that he had been cheated of victory. Only then did he conclude with: “Go home, we love you, you’re very special.”

Twitter immediately took the video down. By nighttime Trump’s Twitter feed seemed to blame his enemies for the violence the president had incited (although the rhythm of the words did not sound to me like Trump’s own usual cadence): “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

Twitter took down the tweet and banned the president for at least twelve hours for inciting violence; Facebook and Instagram followed suit.

The man directly responsible for the chaos of today is Donald Trump, who has made it clear that he will do anything to remain in power – including insurrection and inciting violence. Trump will go down in history as the worst and most dangerous president in history.

– Sen. Bernie Sanders
January 6, 2021

The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire; at their worst, they can incite. Therefore, I call upon President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.

– President-Elect Joe Biden
January 6, 2021

We need to be very clear that responsibility is shared by Trump’s enablers.

A dozen or more U.S. senators and more than 100 members of Congress are today aiding and abetting an effort to undertake a coup – a coup effort that is preordained to fail, but a coup attempt nonetheless. Unlike the pro-Trump mob that I saw, none of those senators and virtually none of those House members actually believe that Trump won the election or has any valid claim of widespread election improprieties.

Soon enough, this distressing episode in American history will be behind us. But its corrosive impact will remain.

Tens of millions of Americans have been fooled into believing the election was stolen, undermining not just their belief in our flawed democracy, but their commitment to democracy itself. This is a frighteningly dangerous state for the nation.

Trump and his enablers have generated a quasi-fascist movement that is poised to perpetuate racist street violence, conspiratorial thinking, and serious perils for a functioning democracy.

– Robert Weissman
Excerpted from “This Is a Dark, Dark Day for America
Common Dreams
January 6, 2021

Today we are witnessing white supremacy cry out in the face of electoral victories that have been definitively decided by Black people; both Trump’s defeat and Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff. Fascist rioters are attempting to subvert democracy because they can’t allow the wellbeing, aspirations, and fates of BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] to measure up, in any way, to their own distorted concepts of being American.

As alarming as the unfolding chaos is, America is graphically exerting its fundamental identity: a terrorist state that violently opposes valuing or making space for Native, Black, Latinx, Asian, Middle Eastern, queer, trans, female, disabled, poor, or non-Christian lives. Ultimately, electoral politics can never be the sole vehicle utilized for building political power or transforming our society into one that is oriented toward the collective thriving of humanity, rather than one driven by white supremacy and capitalism.

It makes very little difference whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden directs the horrific production of the “American Dream” that is unraveling before our eyes. Democracy, as we know it, has never been such.

The Metropolitan Police Department is conspicuously refusing to utilize the same level of force against fascist rioters that was deployed against Black protesters throughout 2020’s summer of Uprising. Policing exists to unwaveringly defend white supremacy, and protect capital, at all costs.

Normal never existed. Pandemic awakened us to the grim reality that our world is defined by greed, profit, and a total disregard for humanity’s interdependent fate. Perhaps the ongoing collapse of America's political institutions will be the necessary mirror for confronting the forces of genocide, destruction, terrorism, and white supremacy that characterize the flag so many hate-filled crowds proudly brandish in Washington, D.C. today.

Phillip Clark
via Facebook
January 6, 2021

There’s nothing – zero – to be gained by allowing Trump to stay in office. He’s already broadcast to the country that he supports the violence. Every day he’s allowed to remain in office only puts us further at risk. Invoke the 25th now.

Brian Tyler Cohen
via Facebook
January 6, 2021

Related Off-site Links:
Pro-Trump Extremists Storm U.S. Capitol In Deadly Attack On Democracy – Ryan J. Reilly, Arthur Delaney, Christopher Mathias, Igor Bobic, and Matt Fuller (The Huffington Post, January 6, 2021).
US Capitol secured, Woman Dead After Rioters Stormed the Halls of Congress to Block Biden’s Win – CNN (January 6, 2021).
World Shocked by Trump Supporters’ Attack on U.S. Democracy – Reuters (January 6, 2021).
Bernie Sanders Says Trump “Directly Responsible” for Insurrection Effort – Jon Queally (Common Dreams, January 6, 2021).
This Violent Insurrection Is What Trump Wanted – John Cassidy (The New Yorker, January 6, 2021).
Assault on Democracy: Sen. Josh Hawley Has Blood on His Hands in Capitol Coup Attempt – The Editorial Board (The Kansas City Star, January 6, 2021).
In Pictures: Pro-Trump Mob Storms US Capitol BuildingCommon Dreams (January 6, 2021).
Twitter Locks Trump’s Account and Warns of “Permanent Suspension” If Violations Continue – Bobby Allyn (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
Rep. Ilhan Omar Says She Is Drafting New Articles of Impeachment Against Trump – Laurel Wamsley (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
FBI, Homeland Security, and White House Advisers Foresaw Possible Riots But Looked the Other Way – William M. Arkin (Newsweek, January 6, 2021).
After Chaos, Insurrection and Death, Pro-Trump Rioters Defy D.C. Curfew – Vanessa Romo (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
“We Will Not Bow to Lawlessness”: Congress Returns After Insurrection – Alana Wise (NPR News, January 6, 2021).
After Right-Wing Coup Effort in DC, Venezuela Offers Sympathy for US Suffering What “It Has Generated” Elsewhere – Kenny Stancil (Common Dreams, January 6, 2021).

UPDATES: No One Has a Right to Be Surprised About the Capitol Violence – Michael Sean Winters (National Catholic Reporter, January 7, 2021).
Some Among America's Military Allies Believe Trump Deliberately Attempted a Coup and May Have Had Help From Federal Law-Enforcement Officials – Mitch Prothero (Business Insider, January 7, 2021).
In America, Leftist Protesters Get Violently Beaten and Arrested. Right-Wing Protesters Get to Take the Capitol – Branko Marcetic (Jacobin, January 7, 2021).
Equating White Nationalists and “Left Radicals” Is What Got Us Here in the First Place – Sarah Lazare (In These Times, January 7, 2021).
Was Trump Hoping for a Coup? – Joseph Gerson (Common Dreams, January 7, 2021).
Thirteen Days of Peril: Managing the Chaotic End of the Trump (January 7, 2021).
FBI: No Evidence Antifa Involved in Capitol Chaos – Tommy Beer (Forbes, January 8, 2021).
Capitol Police Officer Dies From Injuries in Pro-Trump RampageThe New York Times (January 8, 2021).
Pro-Trump Rioters Could Face up to 20 Years in Prison – Jonathan Vanian (Fortune, January 8, 2021).
Trump’s New Officials at Pentagon Blocked National Guard From “Interacting With” Insurrectionists – Mark Sumner (Daily Kos, January 8, 2021).
Twitter Bans President Trump Permanently – Brian Fung (CNN Business, January 8, 2021).
Attack on Capitol Affirms Trumpism Will Live On After Trump Leaves White House – Henry A. Giroux (TruthOut, January 8, 2021).
Trumpism Suffers Untold Damage in Its Collision With the U.S. Capitol – Ron Elving (NPR News, January 9, 2021).
Members of Several Well-Known Hate Groups Identified at Capitol Riot – A.C. Thompson and Ford Fischer (, January 9, 2021).
The Capitol Riot Was More Violent and Terrifying Than It First Looked – Sara Boboltz (The Huffington Post, January 9, 2021).
D.C.’s Acting U.S. Attorney Calls Scope Of Capitol Investigation “Unprecedented” – Martin Kaste (NPR News, January 10, 2021).
The Republican Party Is a Fascist Cult – Noah Colbert (NU Political Review, January 11, 2021).
Organizers of Trump Rally Had Been on Campaign’s Payroll – Bill Allison (, January 22, 2021).
Watchdog Says Organizer of Capitol Protest Turned Riot “Received Explicit Support” from Two GOP Representatives – Meghan Roos (Newsweek via, January 22, 2021).
“Enabling It to Happen Again”: How Charlottesville Led to the Capitol Attack – Patrice Taddonio (Frontline, January 26, 2021).
Second Police Officer Died by Suicide Following Capitol Attack – Caitlin Emma and Sarah Ferris (Politico, January 27, 2021).
Tens of Thousands of Voters Drop Republican Affiliation After Capitol Riot – Reid Wilson (The Hill, January 27, 2021).
“This Is War”: Inside the Secret Chat Where Far-Right Extremists Devised Their Post-Capitol Plans – Logan Jaffe and Jack Gillum (Propublica, January 28, 2021).
Was the Storming of the U.S. Capitol a Coup? An Academic Group Now Says Yes – Louis Jacobson (PolitiFact, February 1, 2021).
Six Capitol Police Officers Suspended, 29 Others Being Investigated for Alleged Roles in Riot – Whitney Wild and Paul LeBlanc (CNN Politics, February 18, 2021).
Feds Expect to Charge at Least 100 More Over Capitol Riot, Pursuing Broad Conspiracy – Kevin Johnson and Dinah Voyles Pulver (USA Today, March 12, 2021).
FBI Releases New Footage of Pro-Trump Mob Attacking Police at U.S. Capitol – Crystal Hill (Yahoo! News, March 18, 2021).

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Trump’s Legacy
Who Half of Us Are
Donald Trump’s Open and Shameless Criminality
About Those Militias
Heather Cox Richardson on the Unravelling of President Trump
Rep. Ilhan Omar Responds to President Trump’s Authoritarian Threats
Marianne Williamson on America’s “Cults of Madness”
“The Republican Party Has Now Made It Official: They Are a Cult”
“We Have an Emergency On Our Hands”: Marianne Williamson On the “Freefall” of American Democracy
“Fascism Is Upon Us”
President Trump, “We Hold You Responsible”
In Charlottesville, the Face of Terrorism In the U.S.
Trump’s America: Normalized White Supremacy and a Rising Tide of Racist Violence
On International Human Rights Day, Saying “No” to Donald Trump and His Fascist Agenda
Progressive Perspectives on the Election of Donald Trump as President
Progressive Perspectives on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election
Trump’s Playbook
Progressive Perspectives on the Rise of Donald Trump

Images: Photo credits coming soon.

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