Supporters of Donald Trump climb the walls of Capitol Hill during the January riot. Photo Credit: James Townsend, used with permission.

By Raya ElHajjar, age 13 and IndyKids staff

The morning of Jan. 6 began with crowds of Trump supporters flooding Washington, D.C., in anticipation of the then-president’s speech. During the rally, Trump urged his followers to “fight like h***” against what he called a stolen election. At 1:30 p.m., thousands of protesters began to march toward the Capitol Building, where the Senate was poised to officially certify the 2020 election results. 

Just before 2 p.m., enraged rioters breached the Capitol, a building that symbolizes the American people, their government and democracy itself. Rioters waved Confederate flags, and many donned white supremacist and far-right symbols. This act of domestic terrorism caused the death of five people, including one police officer, and injured 140 people.

Yet some are convinced that the insurrection was not without a silver lining. Barbara Smith wrote in an opinion piece for the Boston Globe that white people now realize that white supremacy is “coming for them.” Smith wrote, “It is good that white people have noticed that peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors are treated more harshly than white insurrectionists.” She goes on to call for the vanquishing of white supremacy, saying, “The United States has never seriously considered its robust and poisonous system of white supremacy an impediment to its well-being or ability to function. Maybe now it will.”

Following the insurrection, many rioters have been arrested and charged, and former President Trump was impeached, but not convicted, for incitement of insurrection. “When I first saw what was happening at the Capitol, I was just completely shocked,” says Ellie Barry from Ames High School. She took part in a survey conducted by the New York Times. Countless students responded to the survey. Many‌ ‌shared disbelief, anger and exasperation over the insurrection.‌ 

The‌ ‌past‌ ‌few‌ ‌months‌ ‌have‌ ‌been‌ ‌some‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌most‌ ‌taxing‌ ‌in‌ ‌American‌ ‌history,‌ ‌with a global pandemic, a turbulent election cycle, and the mass protests following the deaths of George Floyd and many other Black Americans. Patrisse Cullos, co-founder of the BLM movement, said in an interview with PBS NewsHour that the new Biden-Harris administration must be urged to push a new agenda that elevates and respects the lives of Black people in this country. The question remains: Will this violent attack on our democracy serve as a turning point, leading to the end of white supremacy in the United States? 

Glossary

Insurrection: An act or instance of rebelling against a government