How Grave were the Scenes at the Capitol?

Ever since a crowd of frenzied MAGA supporters stormed the Capitol building last week in an attempt to stop the confirmation of Biden’s win, the actions have been met with a storm of criticism from around the world. The frightening revelation of the undemocratic attitudes among Republican voters and even congresspeople – and its implications for the future of democracy in America – have rightly stolen the headlines.

On the other hand, the crowd itself has mostly been derided as a rag-tag bunch of lunatics. Yet they were far more dangerous – and the circumstance much more fraught – than has been acknowledged.

Journalist Max Blumenthal was at the scene when the building was breached. He observed, “A lot of the people that stormed the Capitol, they seemed to be veterans. They seem to have some kind of military training. They were into tactical stuff. They were totally unafraid. They were unafraid of the cops. They were unafraid of the cops or any ‘less lethal weaponry’ that was starting to be deployed later in the day.”

This is not just because of the way they scaled the Capitol walls and mobbed police barricades, but also the equipment they brought. Many of the rioters and militiamen wore kevlar vests, and a pick-up truck registered to an Alabama man was found outside the Capitol with Molotov cocktails, handguns and an assault rifle.

While countless police officers were assaulted and one has since died in hospital of his injuries, the situation could easily have been far worse. There were close escapes for political figures reviled by the far right for the hours following the breach of the Capitol.

For instance, while a Trump supporter was being photographed with his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk, eight of her aides were huddled in a side room under a conference table praying they wouldn’t be discovered. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said on Tuesday in an Instagram video she thought she “was going to die” and “many members of the house were very nearly assassinated.”

The black policeman who was seen by millions facing down a mob of white men and being chased up a flight of stairs was actually distracting the mob from the still-open doors to the Senate floor. The door to the Senate was literally sealed while he was doing so, as Washington Post reported.

The heroic officer who distracted the mob away from the open Senate doors (as tweeted @igorbobic)

It is clearly false to claim that this was some sort of “Antifa” plot of false flag event because police on the ground “let the Trump supporters in.” Yet based on the accounts of congresspeople and officials to the Washington Post, the high command of the Capitol Police were uncooperative at best during the riot. 

There is no smoking gun at this stage that police high command directly collaborated with Trump, the militia and the “stop the steal” campaign. At the least, however, they clearly struggled to foresee the militiamen, Proud Boys, veterans and average Joe Trump supporters as their enemies or as a threat to “law and order.”

Feature image courtesy of @davidtoddmccarty via Unsplash.