January 6, 2021 will forever be ingrained in the minds of Americans as the day the Capitol was breached. The insurrection that took place shook up an already divided country. One year later the effects of that day can still be felt, from how things are conducted at the Capitol to national safety.
A Quick Recap of Events*
At around eight a.m. Donald Trump posted to his Twitter account a tweet reading “All Mike Pence has to do is send them back to the States. AND WE WIN. Do it Mike, this is a time for extreme courage!”
Around 11 a.m., witnesses reported members of the far-right, elitist Proud Boys approaching, claiming that Donald Trump’s Tweet was a call to action, urging his supporters to take back the election they believed he had won. At noon, President Trump appeared to issue a statement. While seemingly trying to calm rioters, President Trump only fanned the flames with his words. Riotters took his speech as a positive response to continue their actions. The press conference came to a close with this statement: “Mr. Trump ends his speech with the words: “We fight. We fight like hell and if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
At this point the insurrections began to make it past the police barrier, breaking into the Capitol adorned with Trump merchandise, Confederate flags, and even Anti-Semitic comments, reading “6 million wasn’t enough”, a reference to the number of Jewish people murdered during the Holocaust. Employees and political leaders were locked into offices and other safe rooms to avoid interaction with the mob. Nearly two hours later, President Trump posted another message reading “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should been done to protect our Country and our Constitution… USA demands the truth!”
Again, insurrectionists took Trump’s comment as a go ahead to continue pressing on, with some rioters even calling to “hang Mike Pence”. Men and women pushed ahead, breaking into offices, standing on the floor where the speakers had been just hours earlier, and destroying everything in sight. Police were attacked, with five attendees ultimately dying. The Capitol was left a wreck, a shattering of democracy.
With a few final Tweets, Donald Trump urged rioters to go home, effectively ending the insurrection.
The Aftermath: 1 Year Later
Americans still have not come to a consensus as to what truly took place that day. Those in support of the insurrection see it as a day of protest. Many still believe that the election was “stolen” from President Trump, and feel confident that rioting at the Capitol garnered much needed attention. Others consider it a day of domestic terrorism. The Capitol represents the sacred democracy that has kept this country functioning since 1776, and for that beacon to have been breached sheds light on a danger no one expected.
The division that was further developed on that day is still coming into question. As Congress hopes to memorialize the riot, lawmakers are realizing that it is hard to commemorate something that is not agreed upon. According to an article from the New York Times, the “House Democrats have introduced legislation that would require a permanent exhibit in the Capitol.” As has been the case for nearly the entire history of this country, there is a political divide between the right and left wings. Upon the request of the Democratic leaders, an inquiry was held amongst Congress members to determine what exactly a memorial would entail. The article reports that … “Republicans blocked that inquiry, and most of them have spent the past year downplaying or denying the significance of the assault, making it unlikely that they would back legislation to memorialize it.” Interestingly enough, some Republican speakers have said that awarding recognition to the policemen who aided them on that day is sufficient reparation.
Homeland Security has also made the decision to further their security of the Capitol building, keeping close eyes on different alt-right websites that initially organized the riot to avoid any future issues. The head of security believes that they will be able to combat another attack, should it occur (CNN). Visitors to the Capitol will experience and see increased security There is a different feeling than there once was.
As we continue to move forward from that day, there is sure to be continued discussion. One day, this will be included in the textbooks read by our children, and our children’s children, and the uncertainty as to what really happened will cause varying opinions to persist. It is important to reflect on the facts, ignoring the outspoken opinions from both sides, in order to create a clear, accurate picture of what happened.
*Based on BBC timeline