January 6th was one of America’s ugliest days according to The Washington Post. Congress gathered that day to certify Joe Biden’s Electoral vote win in the presidential election over Donald Trump. While this was going on, thousands of Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol building “protesting” that the election was stolen from Trump.
Early that morning Trump tweeted, “States want to correct their votes, which they now know were based on irregularities and fraud. 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.”
It was around 11 a.m. when the largest amount of Trump supporters filled the area. In the early afternoon Trump spoke to the crowd with the words “never give up and never concede.” Trump’s speech ended with, “We’re going to the Capitol, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Throughout the afternoon and into the evening, the “protests” turned into “riots” and what would later be called an insurrection. Rioters were armed with guns and other weapons, attacking police officers and other guards protecting the Capitol. Soon, they broke into the building, violently pushing past the police. They began vandalizing, stealing documents and causing overall destruction. There were many lawmakers still in the building attempting to evacuate safely. Dozens of people were arrested, many were injured and a total of five people were killed according to the New York Times.
Stories later emerged of heroic acts amidst the chaos. One of those centered on Eugene Goodman, a capitol police officer who, unarmed, led a mob away from public officials who were still evacuating.
The world would later see images and videos of Goodman by himself, armed with only a police baton, holding off an angry mob of rioters. According to The Washington Post, police experts say, “he wasn’t fleeing, but luring the mob away from the Senate chambers, where lawmakers were sheltering and armed officers — including one with a semiautomatic weapon — were securing the doors.” Videos of the ordeal went viral and many experts say that Goodman’s actions likely saved the lives of lawmakers and others that day.
Sadly, there were some who lost their lives, including police officer Brian Sicknick. A 12-year veteran of the force, officer Sicknick was injured while physically engaging with rioters. He died the next day. Investigators are still trying to determine the specific cause of death.
Despite the attempts to overturn the outcome of the election, the crowds were ultimately contained and lawmakers returned to the Capitol to certify Biden’s win.
Many people in our community feel the events of Jan. 6 showed a sign of weakness and believe it will leave a mark on U.S. history, and not in a good way. Bailey Steinmeyer, a sophomore at Cleveland, said, “I thought it was a full display of our broken political and media culture, and news ratings are resulting in the erosion of our democracy and our confidence in our institutions.”
Another student, sophomore Ruby Orkin, shared, “At first I just checked the news and it seemed like something small and significant, just angry, bitter, people, sore losers, but then my parents started checking out more and telling me how crazy it had gotten and my anxiety increased. I was looking at photos and news articles and it seemed so surreal I felt like I was in the apocalypse.” She also felt a moment of helplessness since she was “sitting at home, across the country from all that was happening.” She felt as if our democracy was crumbling.
A crumbling democracy seems to be a shared opinion between many people. Andy Sorensen, advisor to the Cleveland Clarion, said , “I remember working away that day, not really paying attention to the news, and then I took a break and saw what was happening, and it sickened me. These people were storming the Capitol, carrying the American Flag and calling themselves ‘patriots.’ It was almost surreal, like what you would see in another country whose government was unstable. On my drive home I listened to NPR and heard Oregon Congressman Jeff Merkeley describe what it was like for the members of Congress when they were under attack, and I understood even more how threatened our lawmakers were, and how this insurrection was an affront to our democracy. I felt truly sorry for all the loss of life and I hoped that anyone involved would be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”