Storming of the Capitol

What we learned from the riots and how they brought about a fitting end to a controversial Presidential term

Images of protesters storming a political building and demanding the overturning of a democratic decision don’t come around too often. A building previously thought impregnable to the public being overrun with ease feels like something fresh out of fiction but the truth is, it isn’t. This is real, and it is America in 2021.

Thousands of Donald Trump supporters broke through the capitol police to occupy parts of the building which is seen by millions as a symbol of democracy. Elected officials, who were inside the building ready to certify the result of November’s election, were forced into a lockdown to assure their own safety away from the protesters.

President-elect Joe Biden addressed the nation whilst protesters occupied the area around the Congress building. He called on everyone to remember what it means to be American and to unite. He also called on Trump to come forward and call on his supporters to stand down. Eventually, Trump did this, but his protesters were slow to react.

The few security guards which lined the steps of the building were swamped quickly, leaving the protesters free to roam like a group of tourists, taking pictures and making videos at any opportunity.

As the protesters set up shop around the building, reports of violence began to circulate. More than one person was taken to hospital with injuries, with at least one person getting shot. Then came the photos from within the building, with one of security blocking the entrance to the chamber where US senators put democracy into motion, sticking in the mind.

Perhaps one of the biggest shocks of the day happened online, away from the streets of the US capital. Vice President Mike Pence condemned the violent scenes, he also changed his header picture to one of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump turned on his Vice President hours before, however, when Pence refused to intervene with the election result; the reason why thousands of protesters descended on congress.

News outlets throughout the day were brimming with politicians, on both sides of the political divide, expressing their embarrassment for what was happening to their country and also anger at how their democracy was being unable to be carried out.

Contrasts are already being drawn between this protest and those carried out in support of Black Lives Matter in the summer. The main question being asked is why was law enforcement officers so swift to act back then, but when it came to the Trump supporters, they paled in comparison? Answers on a postcard, please.

Those on the streets of Washington have been told by their President for years about the importance of democracy, but as soon as that democracy gives them a result they don’t like, they answer the call to prevent that democracy from being made official.

The scenes in Washington were ugly, but they are a fitting end to the shambolic closure of one of the most controversial Presidents in history. Democracy in America might not be dead yet but, after the grim pictures from its capital, it is severely wounded and in need of assistance.

The dust settled relatively quickly and, with President Trump gave an indication that he may actually be willing to provide a smooth transition of power to his successor, we may be in for a relatively quiet end to one of the most intense administrations the USA has ever seen. However, the scars from the ugly scenes in Washington are deep and potentially lasting. The blunt fact of the matter is America needs change, and soon.

I am a journalist with an honours degree from Coventry University. Passionate writing about politics, culture, sport, society and more