Students watched Twitter instead of their Zoom lectures as pro-Trump extremists invaded the Capitol building in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
Armed with firearms, the mob pushed past police in an attempt to stop the Electoral College vote count and prevent Joe Biden from being confirmed as the next United States president, despite several failed lawsuits and no evidence that the 2020 Presidential Election was fraudulent.
Lawmakers were evacuated from their respective chambers, and Vice President Mike Pence called in the National Guard to respond to the riot, the New York Times reported.
“It almost didn’t feel real,” architecture junior Bella Che said. “It’s never really happened in the past where people have so blatantly disregarded the peaceful pass of power.”
Che’s professors continued class as normal Wednesday, so she eventually left to watch the news, she said.
Che said she wants professors to acknowledge and discuss the riots in class, as the state of the country affects students’ mental health, safety and future.
For students like city and regional planning graduate student Ethan Stan, the riot wasn’t a surprise.
Stan keeps tabs on far-right Facebook groups, who he said have been posting about the Jan. 6 riot since December. He said if he’s been aware of the protests, law enforcement should have been too.
“We spent how many tens of billions, trillions of dollars on our military and we can’t even secure the literal seat of our government,” Stan said. “That doesn’t happen without people who are charged with protecting letting it happen.”
Audio by Amanda Wernik
Law enforcement officers shot tear gas and rubber bullets at peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors in San Luis Obispo while they marched to the corner of Santa Rosa and Walnut Street. Although four people died at the Capitol, several videos circulating on social media show pro-Trump extremists invading the Capitol building with weapons, and they were escorted out by the police with little force.
Liberal studies senior Gabriela Hutchinson said the riot at the Captiol building served as an example for white power in America.
“White people don’t feel like they need to fear the police like many POC [people of color] do,” Hutchinson said. “Not that I want police brutality to happen to anyone, but I think it’s very telling who it’s enacted on and who it’s not enacted on.”
White supremacist groups grew more mainstream during Obama’s two presidential terms, angry to see a Black man in power, political science professor Jean Williams said. President Donald Trump’s racism and endorsement of conspiracy theories garnered their support during his election, and he emboldened them during his term, she said.
Williams said President-elect Joseph Biden needs to take a firm stance against white supremacy, and discuss how white supremacy relates to terrorism.
“Some of the worst and consistently problematic terrorists are homegrown, anti-government folks,” Williams said.
During the riot, Trump tweeted a video message that Twitter later removed.
“We had an election that was stolen from us … but you have to go home now, we have to have peace,” Trump said to the rioters. “We love you, you’re very special.”
In this video, Trump provided the mainstream message of “go home,” while also sending a message to encourage his base, by telling them they’re special, Williams said.
“He was providing support to them clearly,” Williams said.
With the House of Representatives threatening to initiate impeachment, Trump conceded that Biden would be president.
“A new administration will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, my focus now turns to ensuring a smooth, orderly and seamless transition of power,” Trump said.
He ended the video with a message to his supporters:
“To all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed, but I also want you to know that our incredible journey is only just beginning,” Trump said.
The Cal Poly Republicans Club sent Mustang News a statement that none of its members were in Washington Wednesday, and they “firmly disavow all forms of violence, no matter what side is perpetuating it.”
Cal Poly Democrats Club Co-President Lauren Buckley said the mob at the Capitol appeared disorganized and without a goal, but it may signal to more coordinated demonstrations in the future.
“People are very unhappy in this country, and it’s not going to go away with Joe Biden being elected officially,” Buckley said.