Photo Credits: AGGIE FILE
Predominately white rioters who violently stormed Congress were met with significantly less force than peaceful BLM protestors over the summer
Wednesday, Jan 6., 2021, brought both hope and grief to an already-fracturing America. That morning, Jon Ossoff was declared winner of the senate runoff election in Georgia, making him the first Millennial elected to the U.S. Senate. His victory followed that of Raphael Warnock, who became Georgia’s first Black Senator and the 11th African American to ever serve in the Senate.
By the afternoon, the news was overshadowed by domestic terrorists who—riled up by the lies and disinformation spewed by our president—infiltrated the Capitol building with loose intentions of stopping the official counting of electoral votes.
On Jan. 6, President Donald Trump’s actions displayed a flagrant disregard for the health of our citizens, the safety of our elected officials and the state of our nation. Though his words have a history of inspiring violence and hate, the false claims he made during his rally incited a direct attack on our Capitol, halting the democratic proceedings that uphold our nation’s ideals.
President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation that afternoon, saying, “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not reflect a true America—do not represent who we are.” Yet these acts of terrorism have shown us that the division and hatred perpetrated by President Trump remains rampant in the U.S.—creating a divide that will not disappear after the transfer of presidential power on Jan. 20.
Though this anger and bigotry is encouraged by the words of our president, it is supported and upheld by the racist institutions that exist in our county. Many noted how last summer’s peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests were met with violent and unnecessary military responses, while the domestic terrorists that attacked our Capitol were helped down the stairs and took selfies with police officers.
During the BLM protests, peaceful activists in Washington D.C.’s Lafayette Park—who were predominantly Black—were met with thousands of National Guards, batons and rubber bullets, repeated uses of tear gas and on one particular day, 88 arrests.
In contrast, rioters from Jan. 6—who were mostly white—were met with distinctly less force, even after police discovered Molotov cocktails and guns on Capitol grounds. That day there were only 13 arrests despite rioters attacking police officers with chemicals, storming and vandalizing Congress and stealing an array of items such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s podium and mail.
The message is clear: white rioters can storm and loot the halls of Congress, while Black protestors can’t even stand in the neighboring park.
The Editorial Board believes that Trump is not a fit leader for our country, as he has irresponsibly incited violence in an attempt to undermine November’s election results. Though he only has two more weeks as president, we support Trump’s removal from office.
Trump and other GOP lawmakers’ lies about rampant voter fraud spurred this riot. Despite denouncing the violence carried out by the rioters, many continued to perpetuate false claims about the election being stolen.
The prominence of hate symbols at our Capitol significantly impacted marginalized communities who have faced this kind of targeted hate before. The worsening pandemic is already a constant stressor, and this civil unrest only adds another layer of anxiety—the Editorial Board asks both professors and students to be more accommodating of each other.
Even if our democratic process works, and there is a peaceful transition of power to Biden on Jan. 20, the divisions in our country will not be magically healed on Inauguration Day. A sizable percentage of Americans trust conspiracy theories more than the truth and Trump over democratic values.
It will take time and hard work to repair our country, and Biden has a monumental task in front of him. But every one of us can help as well, by organizing with compassion and educating our friends and family members about misinformation on the Internet. And of course, we must cast our votes only for candidates who believe in the importance of the truth and uphold the values of our democracy.
Written by: The Editorial Board