Monday, June 17Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

This is America

“This is not America, they’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”

On January 6, 2021, the United States Congress was evacuated for the first time since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and it was the first time the Capitol has been breached by American citizens.

After marching throughout DC in the morning, and listening to Trump’s incendiary speech to the mask-less thousands, the angry pack of men and women converged towards the Capitol, a supposed beacon of democracy around the world.

The crowds were a mix of MAGA enthusiasts who were dressed head to toe in stars and stripes, or Trump paraphernalia; and those who were more obviously there for the fight, wearing helmets, flak jackets, military gear; holding makeshift shields and using flag dowels as batons. This assortment of believers in Stop the steal, waved a collection of flags like Crusaders going into battle: American flags, Confederate flags, and Trump 2020 flags; the Christian flag, QAnon flags, and Don’t Tread on Me flags. 

According to Andrew McCormick, the crowd chanted generic points such as “Stop the steal!”, “USA, USA!”, “Long live the Republic!”, “Fight for Trump!”, and as time went on their chants became darker such as “Democrats are a cult!” and “Hang Mike Pence”. Pointing to a balcony smeared with blood, one man told McCormick that, “This is what it’s going to take, brother, This right here.”

After the crowds marched up the Capitol steps, overwhelming the pitiful protection the Capitol police offered, who showed mighty restraint against an armed and violent crowd in contrast to the way they dealt with peaceful protestors in the summer; they entered the building itself with relative ease.

After raging rampant through the building, trashing various rooms, chilling in Speaker Pelosi’s office and just generally desecrating a supposed safe haven for elected representatives and the home of orderly debate and governance; the insurrectionists finally faced some pushback from the Capitol police.

The reaction of shock amongst the self-proclaimed “Freedom fighters” when they faced opposition from the Police is quite telling. The hysterical cries of a woman at the Capitol who said; “This is not America, they’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots.”, demonstrate the problems the nation is facing.

These cries echo the calls of Proud Boys and fascist activists who were maced and shot with pepperballs by Salem police during a New Year’s Day rally, who then proclaimed that “the blue no longer backs us; so we should no longer back them.”

In some cases those on the Insurgent right have begun to equate law enforcement with their main enemy ANTIFA, with one saying, “Rural patriots want to nip the weak cops in the bud and treat them the same as AntiFa since both are now a united front against America”.

Despite the flags which read “Thin Blue Line” and chants of “Back the Blue!”, by the end of the day open anti-law enforcement rhetoric was openly on display, and clashes with police escalated throughout the events of January 6th.

The most obvious example of violent intent were the pipe bombs found at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee and on the grounds of the United States Capitol.

Reflecting on the events Lindsey Graham, a Republican Senator, said, “They could have blown the building up. They could have killed us all. They could’ve destroyed the government,”.

Whilst the crowds failed to do that, and the American government lived to see another day; America’s elected representatives are not safe from right-wing violence, and unless the threat of right-wing violence is taken seriously by the powerful Police outfits across the United States and information is properly acted upon, the people who stormed the Capitol the other day will continue to act with impunity and righteousness.