On Jan. 6, 2020, an inexcusable attack was made on the principles of American Democracy by the supporters of the 45th President of the United States. The U.S. Capitol was last breached in 1812, but that changed on the sixth as an estimated minimum of 1,000 fervent insurrections broke into the Capitol. Some even held delusions of revolution, upholding democracy or tak-ing down a satanic cabal of pedophiles. As ridiculous as that last bit sounds, it holds true all the same.
The symbols paraded on the flags, signs and clothing of the insurrectionists varied some, but there were recurring themes. The most common was MAGA gear, which could be seen in the thousands on the Trump supporters inside and outside the Capitol. The groups behind these symbols all shared a strong – and certifiably false – conviction that the election was stolen from Trump.
QAnon, a viral and insidious conspiracy whose members make up a considerable amount of Trump’s supporters, was present en masse. The signs, flags and clothing bearing the QAnon logo, or belonging to their merch collections were simply impossible to miss. These symbols seem harmless enough, but it only gets worse. It was also easy to spot the right-wing militias of the Oath keepers and the Three Percenters. These groups share a strong distrust for the government, love for guns and idolize Trump. Many were carrying the Gadsden flag, a flag from the time of the American Revolution that reads “Don’t Tread on Me.” The Gadsden flag has patriotic origins and has been adopted by militias and extremist groups across the country and by those who define themselves as “Anti-Government.”
Speaking of flags, for the first time in the history of the U.S., the confederate battle flag was flown inside our Capitol. Regardless of one’s political affiliation or beliefs, the fact that the flag of traitors was touted through our capitol so freely should be utterly infuriating. The confederate battle flag is a well-documented and obvious symbol of white supremacy, and has been for many years. Its presence in the riots highlighted the extent to which Trump’s racist rhetoric has enabled the worst among us, while deluding countless Americans.
Also present at the riot were anti-semitic symbols, of which there were at least three types present in multiple instances. These unforgivably sobering symbols serve as two reminders: that anti-semitism is still a problem in the U.S., and those who stormed the capitol were of a wicked mindset and intention, no matter how right they think they were.
The support and money chains behind the riot are long and complex, and the FBI is investigating the funding from domestic and foreign sources. The planning however, was mostly done online through sites like 4chan and TheDonald, plus the far-right social media platform Parler. However, a majority of the people joining the riots came from protests and rallies held earlier in the day or the day before and were incited by prominent republican figures, including Donald Trump and Don. Jr.
From approximately 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., the insurrectionists clashed with the very police they were backing so desperately just earlier in 2020. They beat capitol police, even killing one, and breached the capitol through multiple entrances. The building wasn’t declared safe until about three hours later. From there, Trump was impeached for the second time on Jan. 13, in the most bi-partisan impeachment in U.S. history. This event has to serve to the public as a grave reminder of the danger of politicians like Trump, with the ability and charisma to create such a cult following. A group so as-sured of their righteousness while allowing members amongst themselves to hold such contemptible racist, supremacist, xenophobic and generally divisive stances with impunity.