It was a desecration of our government's seat of power. A sacrilege against our democracy. A shameful episode carried out by a relatively small mob of violent criminals who disgraced the otherwise peaceful, lawful assembly of thousands of earnest Americans who had traveled to Washington to express their distrust of the last election.
In the end, five people died. Three were labeled "medical emergencies." One Capitol police officer was brutally struck on the head with a fire extinguisher wielded by a protester and later died. Then there was Ashli Babbitt, 35, a military veteran who was fatally shot in the neck. Babbitt and a marauding group of trespassers broke down a door inside the U.S. Capitol, and as she tried to climb through the door's shattered window, an outnumbered, lone lawman guarding several members of the House fired one fatal shot.
Five needless deaths, 14 police officers injured. And for what? The group would likely say they were there to disrupt Congress from ratifying the presidential Electoral College vote, but they achieved exactly nothing.
Nearly 70 were arrested, and more may be. I hereby call on each guilty party to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Their lawyers better not offer arguments about understandable outrage over the election or angst due to COVID-19. I'm not buying any excuse for what that band of lawless, unpatriotic intruders did. None. We are not some banana republic where the citizenry storms parliament. We are the United States of America, and it's time everyone was expected to act accordingly.
The behavior the world witnessed inside the halls of Congress was criminal, pure and simple. Americans deserve to know everything about every person who illegally entered "The People's House" that day. What were their motives? Why did some come equipped with climbing ropes, and was there a conspiracy to discover the best way to enter the building? Do the suspects have criminal records or a history of mental health issues? We should expect the FBI to be transparent with its findings.
Perhaps more importantly, who financed trips to Washington for these criminals? There are active groups – on both sides of the political spectrum – bent on causing societal disruption. If there were professional instigators involved, we need to know.
The media quickly labeled this a "coup," which it was not, and the mob as "pro-Trump supporters." If that's true, the 45th president should be held at least partially responsible for what occurred after his speech to supporters earlier in the day in which he continued to belligerently insist that he won the election "by a landslide." His encouragement for the crowd to march to the Capitol could be considered a catalyst to the deadly event.
Trump had obviously been looking to incite supporters since his Dec. 19 tweet announcing: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!"
Sore losers don't get to stoke anger, step back into the shadows and then wait hours to tell his minions to "go home in peace." I am a lifelong proponent of free speech, but I can't disagree with the social media ban imposed on Trump by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I applaud those members of the administration who resigned in shock and embarrassment.
That said, other politicians and the media aren't blameless. For the last year, we've seen violent eruptions of rioting, looting, arson, assault and death in cities across the country. Politicians ordered law enforcement to stand down and let the protesters wear themselves out. The oblivious mayor of Seattle called the illegal occupation of part of her city nothing more than a "summer of love" gathering. At one point, a police precinct was set on fire with rioters trying to trap officers inside by sealing the doors with cement.
Newspapers and newscasters frequently described 2020 demonstrations as expressions of frustration over racial disparity or "mostly peaceful protests," when they were obviously much more than that. CNN's Don Lemon foolishly likened one chaotic evening in cities as far apart as Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., to the Boston Tea Party and played down the violence by saying, "This is how this country was started."
Something very ugly has taken hold in this country, both individually and politically. Here's hoping the deadly Jan. 7 storming of The People's House will be enough to convince citizens that personal anger must dissolve and political attitudes must change if we want to remain the UNITED States of America.