Breach of U.S. Capitol threatens democracy

On Jan. 6, supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. during Congress’ counting of the Electoral College votes, which halted the process and forced the evacuation of the House and Senate. 

Earlier on Wednesday, the supporters had gathered to protest the results of the election, with Trump encouraging them to march to the Capitol. As the votes were being ratified, there was a security alert. 

The protestors overwhelmed the building’s security and entered the building – breaking windows, vandalizing offices and stealing government property. Government officials and staff members took cover inside the House and Senate’s chambers. 

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania released a statement on their Facebook page during the events at the Capitol, which was reshared by the Republican Party of Luzerne County. 

These violent scenes we have witnessed do not represent acts of patriotism, but an attack on our country and its founding principles,” said the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. “Our Founding Fathers established a nation of laws, not a nation of anarchy. We call for all those involved to listen to law enforcement officials and help restore order in our nation’s capital.”

Explosive devices were found outside the Democratic and Republican National Committee’s headquarters, blocks from the Capitol. 

Amidst the chaos, Trump tweeted to the protestors to remain peaceful, but they remained in the building. 

Hours later, President-Elect Joe Biden gave a speech, calling the act an insurrection and called on Trump to end the siege. Trump responded with a video on social media, saying that he loved his followers, but they had to go home. 

Vice President Mike Pence approved the National Guard’s deployment to push back protestors. According to a CNN article, the building was finally clear around 5:40 p.m.

Around 8 p.m., Congress reconvened for the ratification of the Electoral College’s votes, which continued until three in the morning on Jan. 7. 

Colin Ahrensfield, Wilkes senior and registered Republican, shared some thoughts on how this event may affect the future. He fears what will happen if Republicans do not separate themselves from Trump.

“I worry about what might happen in the aftermath because if Trump supporters are willing to go to these lengths, I can’t imagine what they will do when Biden is elected,” said Ahrensfield. “Even if we don’t break out into a full civil war, there will most likely be unrest for months to come.”

The consequences of the protests resulted in five deaths, including a Capitol police officer. There were also resignations from several senior staff and cabinet officials.

Several tweets posted by Trump were taken down, and he was locked out of his account for 12 hours. Facebook banned Trump for the remainder of his presidency, and Twitter has now banned him permanently. 

Further, there are calls for Trump’s resignation or his removal from his office. House Democrats are planning to introduce an impeachment resolution by Jan. 11.

Another Wilkes student and registered Democrat, Xavier Abdella, was saddened by the images of Confederate flags in the building.

“We have seen countless times last summer of how our government has handled the protests of the Black Lives Matter Movement. The lack of security at the Capitol shows how much work we still have to do as a country,” said Abdella. 

Kathy Bozinski, head and chair of the Democratic Party in Luzerne County, was horrified by the events, believing it showed America at its worst and left everyone around the world stunned. However, Bozinski has renewed energy to do whatever she can to support American democracy. 

“I watched as our leaders in Washington came together within hours of this horror to continue their work united in spirit and determined that democracy would prevail. They put aside differences and made that happen. That spirit was also reflected here in Luzerne County,” said Bozinski.  

Over the past few days, Bozinski received calls, social media messages and texts from people who want to get involved with the Democratic Party to strengthen the nation. 

“The people I spoke with were all united in a love for our country and determination that this must never happen again,” said Bozinski.