What an extraordinary week this has been.
On Wednesday the 6th, supporters of losing presidential candidate Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol, in an attempt to prevent his rival Joe Biden being confirmed as the winner of the election. The Capitol Police were overwhelmed – more of that later – and senators & congressmen had to flee through underground tunnels, or hide in place, while an armed mob ransacked the building. Earlier Trump had made a speech exhorting his supporters to overturn the vote and to act that day to stop his opponent being certified. He accused his own VP of betraying him, and the crowd chanted “Hang Mike Pence”. One would have thought it a joke, except that the mob later erected a gallows outside the capitol. And he pretty much outright invited the military and police to join his mob.
There’s little doubt that had they found Pence, or Biden or Kamala Harris, they’d have been murdered. There’s no doubt that if the mob had found any of the black, asian, muslim or other non-white Democrats, they’d have been murdered too.
And another shocking thing: the mayor of DC and the police chief both asked for the national guard to be deployed. Guess who controls them? The president. He refused. The governors of Maryland and Virginia offered help. Trump denied them permission. Eventually Pence stepped in and authorised it over Trump’s head. Peace was restored after thousands of troops were deployed and the attackers dispersed.
The commentators called it a failed insurrection. And it was, but only just. The brave actions of a few police and security staff prevented the chamber being overrun long enough for the senate and congress to get to safety. One black officer actually goaded the crowd to get them to chase him, leading them away fom the chamber and buying time. He lived, but a fellow officer was not so lucky, and four protestors also died, one shot attempting to attack senators, the others crushed or having heart attacks during the attack.
And who were these people? Qanon, libertarian gunslingers, covid denialists, Proud Boy white nationalists, racist thugs and worse.
And as for rest of the Capitol Police: one opened a side door to let the attackers in. Another posed for selfies. Several shook hands with friends in the mob, and some were even *part* of it. They stood and watched as right wing thugs stole property – one posted with his feet on the speaker’s desk, and stole her post and possibly laptop. Others vandalised the building and ransacked senators offices. One guy even stole a lectern, and grinned at the police while carrying it out.
So far about 70 arrests have been made, a dozen police officers suspended and many senior staff have resigned both from Trump’s government and from the security team who failed to be ready. But many many questions are unanswered.
For example, most of the attackers walked away scott free, with only a handful of shots fired, and no tear gas, baton charges, truncheon beatings or beanbags being fired into people’s faces. Can you imagine, if that had been a group of angry black people? They’d have been teargassed, beaten, black-bagged, and shot dead. Instead they were allowed to return to their nice hotels in DC and grab a beer or two while masklessly boasting. The police even escorted them out.
As for Trump? He doubled down, making more inflammatory speeches. But he’s now been impeached for sedition and incitement to insurrection, and looks likely to be convicted. He’s also been kicked off all social media for making posts inciting violence and murder. And his long-standing buddies in the GOP are deserting him. Mcconnell has said impeachment would be for the best, Christie has roasted him. So there’s a strong chance he’ll be convicted.
Its not over yet though. The FBI says there is credible evidence that armed men plan to attack all 50 capitol buildings between now and Biden’s inauguration on the 20th, and for sure there will be an attempt on the inauguration itself.
I feel certain that Trump’s supporters will try to kill Biden, Harris and others, if not in the next two weeks, then in the next few months. There will certainly be constant right wing paramilitary attacks, protest marches, violence against non-whites and worse.
The thing is, some of these people actually *want* a civil war. They want to overthrow the govt, install a right wing dictator, return black peoples to their ‘proper place’ and round up the ‘heathens, commies and gays’. They are genuine nazis and white religious extremists and I fear the only message that will get through is one of ruthlessness in return.
You cannot negotiate with terrorists.