The significance of what happened three days ago, the attempted overthrow of the United States government by extremist Trump loyalists, was witnessed by the world in real-time. A violent band of domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol and, seemingly, were allowed to do so without meeting the immediate militarized policing that’s rolled out anytime Indigenous, Black and Brown Americans peacefully protest to protect their lives.
Like all of you, I watched as a gang—organized, violent, and mad they’d lost an election—laid siege to the United States Capitol. They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of American government. And once authorities finally gained control of the situation, these rioters and gang members were led out of the building not in handcuffs, but free to carry on with their days. | Michelle Obama
The deeply troubling — but not surprising — multi-layered display of Trump fanaticism, White supremacy, conspiracy theories, racial and social disparities and hypocrisy that exists in the United States was encapsulated in that moment. This shameful insurrection left no place for ambiguity: radicalized White people were emboldened by centuries-long systems that underpin their privilege and power and by a president that deliberately fueled uninhibited division, lies, racism and hatred.
This coup attempt had one aim: to stop the Electoral College vote count that would declare Joe Biden the winner of the 2020 presidential election and instead install Trump as a would-be king. It didn’t work and the joint session of Congress proceeded after the Capitol Police and National Guard cleared and secured the House Chamber. This attack didn’t happen in a vacuum or come about spontaneously, it was planned for weeks by his supporters who were encouraged to believe that the election results were fraudulent. To maintain this charade, Trump and his GOP allies even went as far as to repeatedly file baseless lawsuits to try and steal the election. Trump didn’t stop repeating false claims that the election was fraudulent even when he was called upon to restore calm to an incredibly volatile and dangerous situation. He told his rioting supporters to be peaceful and to go home but then provided them with a presidential seal of approval that legitimized their actions by saying he loved them, he thinks they’re very special and feels their pain. He figuratively gave them his signature thumbs up.
Trump chose not to swiftly condemn domestic terrorism, which is predictable given his previous sidestepping and unwillingness to unequivocally denounce White supremacist hate groups — they are, after all, one and the same thing. He needed them to try to overthrow the government and the Constitution it swears to protect so that he could illegitimately remain in power. He lost the election, but look what he almost managed to do by stoking fear, hatred, aggression and lies for four years. This was calculated, and everyone who supported him fell in line and should bear some responsibility for the five people who died during the unrest. Through his Supreme Court picks, Federal judges, cabinet members, servile Congress members and followers, he hoped to be able to dismantle American democracy. Enough people voted for Trump in the 2020 election to make it clear that America does not have a fringe problem with racism, discrimination, White supremacy and right-wing extremism, it’s mainstream, it wasn’t a dealbreaker — and it was the point.
Millions of people across the country (and around the world) watched live streams and on-sight news coverage of Trump supporters storming the Capitol. The rioters themselves even photographed, filmed, celebrated and shared their exploits. Then, like clockwork, pro-Trump media, fed by QAnon conspiracy theorist (and attorney), Lin Wood tried to defend the indefensible by peddling falsehoods that it was actually Antifa, and not Trump loyalists, who carried out this attack — which is a demonstrable lie.
But do you know what is true about American democracy? Record numbers of voters cast or mailed in their ballots to affect political change despite persistent acts of voter suppression and disenfranchisement that disproportionately, but not unintentionally impact Indigenous, Black and communities of Colour. Participation was mobilized through grassroots movements that helped create the highest percentage of eligible voters turning out in 120 years. There will be more Native, Black and LGBTQ+ lawmakers serving in the next Congress than before. A total of 141 women were voted into Congress breaking a previous record set in 2019. Georgia voted for its first Black senator, Raphael Warnock and its first Jewish senator, Jon Ossoff. And all of this happened during a pandemic that is still ravaging this country.
Democracy is fragile and imperfect. We have much work to do.
Further Info & Support:
Must-See New Video Shows Capitol Riot Was Way Worse Than We Thought — MSNBC *TW: violence, death threat, gun violence, medical distress