U.S. Capitol assault sparks public outcry

McLean students react to the attack on the Capitol


Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons

CAPITOL CATASTROPHE — Pro-Trump rioters and breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, ransacking the building as lawmakers ran for cover. Their mission was to push forth their ideologies and their belief that the election was unlawful.

Aleena Gul and Mackenzie Chen

The U.S. Capitol, an icon of American democracy, was breached in 1814 during the War of 1812 by British soldiers. More than 200 years later, the U.S. Capitol was breached again, but this time by American citizens.

On Jan. 6, the day of the Electoral College certification, President Donald Trump held a rally exclaiming his frustration with the results of the 2020 election, which he has claimed numerous times to be fraudulent. Then, all chaos ensued as inflamed pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, vandalizing politician’s offices, stealing property, having an armed exchange with officers, setting off tear gas in the halls and defiling the sanctity of the Constitution. Lawmakers and politicians were forced to evacuate the building while others were barricaded in their offices.

Once the smoke settled, devastating revelations surfaced. There were five deaths, including civilians and police officers. After the invasion, public officials emerged to share their reactions to the events and to recount what happened inside the Capitol.

“I am safe, but heartbroken about what we are enduring at our nation’s Capitol,” Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said on Twitter. “Running for our lives as members of Congress in the United States is really devastating and shocking.”

Similarly, in a reassuring tweet, Virginia Senator Mark Warner gave an update on his welfare after the attack.

“I am safe and sheltering in place with other senators,” Warner said. “Please join me in praying for our country and for our fellow Americans to do the right thing.”

In each of their stories, one commonality was prevalent: politicians condemned the riots and called for action.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney also criticized the Capitol breach and declared that the power of democracy should not be hindered by violence.
“What happened at the U.S. Capitol was [an] insurrection,” Romney said on Twitter. “[But] we must not be intimidated or prevented from fulfilling our constitutional duty.”

Not only did many prominent figures in politics criticize the riots, but McLean High School students also have expressed strong sentiments about the event.

“I was really disappointed that there were so many people [who] believed that was an OK thing to do, especially a lot of them being adults,” said junior Aria Huffman, an elected board member of McLean’s Young Democrats Club. “I thought that a lot of Americans would have understood that being a patriot does not mean going against your own government.”

Some were not surprised considering the increasingly tense political atmosphere last year and this year.

“The riot didn’t shock me to a large extent,” sophomore Sherry Li said. “Political tension has been tremendous all throughout 2020, and violence has already devastated thousands. The bottom line is that it was uncalled for and threatened lives in the DMV, particularly DC area.”

Many students brought up the drastic and unjust disparity in the treatment of the rioters in the U.S. Capitol in comparison to the Black Lives Matter protestors last summer.

“Imagine if those [rioters] were minorities,” junior Nicole Chan said. “If this was a Black Lives Matter protest, there would be a lot more people getting shot at.”

Others have pointed out a direct contradiction in the intruders’ ideologies versus their actions at the Capitol.

“It’s ironic that the ones who think they’re supporting American freedom are the ones tearing at the fabric of America as a republic,” junior Kevin Fan said.

In addition, students have all expressed a desire to see lawmakers in the country taking initiative to ensure that the event on Jan. 6 never happens again.

“The attack at the Capitol was a disturbing act of terrorism on the United States and its democratic processes,” junior Leah Siegel said. “We must show to the world that demagoguery and baseless attacks on democracy will be shut down in America. We must set a precedence in this nation that those who commit crimes will be punished, no matter how powerful they are.”

Students said they want the U.S. to learn from this attack and improve as a society.

“What America needs to do as a whole is recognize, accept and grow,” Li said. “There is absolutely no place for hate; all that generates is anger and hence violence.”

Looking towards the future, there have been calls for unity and a unanimous understanding that democracy is a means towards freedom and equality for all rather than a tool that is exploited to further political agendas.

“I personally think that the U.S. Capitol breach really showed how much one president’s actions can separate the whole nation,” senior Stephany Sun said. “I think that America has become so divided based on political views and that hopefully with Biden becoming president, we can unite under one nation again despite what political party we are under.”