Looking back at the Capitol riot


NurPhoto via Getty Images

Trump supporters near the U.S Capitol, on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. // Shay Horse, Getty Images

Haley Wernz, Reporter

As we enter February, it’s important to revisit the first huge political event 2021 has given us— the swarming of the Capitol building in Washington DC on January 6 exactly one month ago.

What unfolded that day was absolutely unexpected… 2021 has already started off on a rocky start and that was the first indication that maybe, just maybe, time isn’t real and that bad things just be happenin’. First and foremost, January 6 riots were quite possibly the biggest Trump-related events during his presidency that were in SUPPORT of ol’ Donny. Ever since the election results were confirmed (and honestly even when they were originally called within the week of the election), things had been super tense between Trump supporters and literally everyone else.

Adam Johnson stealing Nancy Pelosi’s podium (later trying to sell it on Ebay) // Win McNamee, Getty Images

These dudes were so sure everyone was wrong and that there was SO MUCH fraud evidence that was just being swept under the rug but… there wasn’t. Trump’s campaign filed 86 lawsuits and lost every single one, according to Associated Press. At one point, they lost several cases in six states in one day. Absolutely no facts to his argument at all, and anyone with literally ANY brain mass would know that. Or at least they should. Some people believe it was a left-wing conspiracy. 

The Antifa Conspiracy; Debunked

    The biggest “suspect” in the Capitol swarm case (according to Trump supporters and other conspirators) is the left-wing group Antifa, shorthand for the term “Anti-Facist,” a group name coming from the idea that if people were more outspokenly anti-facist the Nazi regime wouldn’t have happened. Antifa is not a true organized, collected group but more of a conceptual thing. In the 1980’s, Antifa consisted of punks (think spiked leather jackets and platform boots) who would push skin-head neo-Nazis out of punk spaces and gigs, according to the BBC. Things died down for Antifa until the rise of the Trump presidency. All in all, they’re against facism, white supremacy, racism, and bigotry in general. Now why would they fake a Capitol attack, an act of terrorism? (Spoiler: they didn’t!)

    There is absolutely no merit to the idea that Antifa was connected to the attack at all. Even the FBI investigated it and confirmed that there was no Antifa involvement. Assistant Director Steven D’Antuono told CNBC reporters, “We have no indication of [Antifa involvement] at this time.”

The conspiracy of Antifa involvement comes from sources such as not only Former President Trump and Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Mo Brooks of Alabama and Paul Gosar of Arizona. Gaetz is quoted as saying, “The Washington Post has just reported some pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters, they were masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa.” The Washington Post article in question was removed after Gaetz’s statement was made. 

The (Real) Faces of the Riot

Many identifications of people at the Capitol were shown to be real, avid Trump supporters– aka not Antifa. For example, Couy Griffin, a New Mexico county commissioner, was a member of a (deleted) Facebook group called “Cowboys for Trump” and was previously in a video retweeted by Trump (before, y’know) saying “the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” While those are very strong words, the message rings clearer in a video posted to the Cowboys for Trump group where he says, “You want to say that that was a mob? You want to say that was violence? No sir. No ma’am. No, we could have a 2nd Amendment rally on those same steps [where] we had that rally yesterday. You know, and if we do, then it’s gonna be a sad day, because there’s gonna be blood running out of that building,” alleged by prosecutors. 

Jacob Anthony Chansley at the Capitol Riot// Win McNamee, Getty Images

Without even going into a deep dive into peoples’ pasts, there were people in attendance at the riot who were… disgustingly obvious with their views. Remember that one buffalo head man? That was Jacob Anthony Chansley, who has a tattoo of the “Valknot,” also known as the “knot of the slain,” which is a Norse symbol of the afterlife and the Norse god Odin. However, white supremacists have corrupted that symbol to mean that they will give their life to Odin in battle, according to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Another man named Robert Keith Packer attended the riot wearing a sweatshirt that said “Camp Auschwitz, Work Brings Freedom,” which is obviously anti-semitic. White supremacist groups such as the Proud Boys, the Groyper Army, and the New Jersey European Heritage Association. There is absolutely no doubt there is a connection between Donald Trump, his supporters and white supremacy.

Robert Keith Packer at the Capitol Riot in a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt // ITV News Footage

Can We Do Better in 2021? 

The riot on the Capitol is an absolute clear example of what kind of person felt safe under the Trump administration: white supremacists who don’t care about anyone but themselves. These are people who want to “make America great again” with the white man on top.

There have been people who have compared the riot to Black Lives Matter protests, which is disgustingly inaccurate. One of the biggest reasons is the police response to the protests vs the riot— while BLM protestors were pepper sprayed, hit with rubber bullets (causing injuries and death, according to Time), MAGA rioters took selfies in Nancy Pelosi’s office, took pictures with Capitol police, and managed to smuggle out podiums and computers.

BLM protestors in Pittsburg being teargassed by police (June 2020) // Alexis Lai, Public Source

Even the way they were told to disperse by Former President Trump was nearly night and day. BLM protestors were “thugs,” “agitators,” and “looters.” He made the statement “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” according to NPR. In comparison he told MAGA rioters, “We love you. You’re very special… but you have to go home.” What? The MAGA rioters were there to cause trouble, full stop.

Capitol police officer posing for a selfie with a MAGA rioter // Image from a livestream

They swarmed a government building with intent to cause harm. They came touting Confederate flags. There is no comparison to people who want an end to white supremacy, police brutality, the constant disrespect that BIPOC face on a day-to-day basis. BLM wants to get rid of the systemic racism and corruption that runs deep in America’s government systems, but the MAGA rioters want to uphold those ideals.

Richard Barnett in Nancy Pelosi’s office, posing for an image that would later get him charged and arrested. // Sal Loeb, Getty Images

With the election of President Joe Biden, things are already rocky, but at least he’s not coddling and encouraging white supremacy… even with VP Kamala Harris and her history of disproportionately high Black incarcerations under her time as California Senator, things have the potential to get better than they are now (don’t get it twisted though, hold them accountable when they fail to do things that they need to get done).

But will the MAGA cronies still feel like they can just start riots and cause “the next civil war” whenever things go just a little bit too… “socialist” for them? Honestly, probably. The MAGA rioters are the people who would have snarled at Ruby Bridges, fought on the side of the Confederacy (that one isn’t even an assumption…), spat on Black sit-in participants at the “Whites Only” counter, and they’re proud of it. They are proud of the lies, murder, slavery, and injustice this country was built on. And they want everyone to know it.