Rashid A Mughal
SIXTH January 2021 will be remembered and recorded in history as a Black Day as far as American democratic system is concerned. A day when democracy came under attack in the otherwise most free country and champion of democracy in the world. Storming of Capitol Hill while the joint session of Senate and Congress was underway to confirm and certify Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States of America, appears to be pre-planned and well organized. The absence of police force or national guards to prevent the mob from approaching the Capitol Hill, knowing that the joint session was underway, raises a big question mark on the performance and ability of the local police to foresee such situations and prepare an action plan to quell such unlawful and violent protests.
Obviously either the protesters were deliberately allowed to enter the buildings to intimidate the lawmakers or the police and other law enforcement agencies were so inefficient that they could not understand the gravity of the situation. The protesters ransacked the offices of the Speaker, Nancy Palosi and other Democrats, Senators and Congressmen, at will and left only when the curfew was imposed at 6 pm and additional police and national guards were deployed. A mile away the man who charged these protesters with provocative statements, sat at ease in his sofa in the White House to witness horrifying show of domestic terrorism, unleashed by white supremacists and Trump’s base. A day that began with thousands of President Trump’s supporters in Washington for demonstrations which turned violent as many in attendance saw Wed as a last stand for Trump because Congress was set to confirm that President-elect Joe Biden won election.
Trump — who lost the popular and electoral college vote — continues to dispute the election results, without evidence and has encouraged his supporters to attend the rallies. He took the stage about noon to roaring crowds, falsely claiming he had won the election. Later at the US Capitol Hill throngs of people pushed past police who were trying to block them from entering the building as lawmakers inside debated counting electoral college votes confirming Biden’s victory. A mob was able to breach security and successfully entered the building, where one person was shot and later died.
The FBI issued a public call early Thursday for “tips and digital media” which would help them identify rioters who invaded the Capitol on 06 January afternoon and vandalized the historic landmark. “Our goal is to preserve the public’s constitutional right to protest,” the FBI’s Washington Field Office said in the release, “by protecting everyone from violence and other criminal activity.” Three people suffered medical emergencies and died during the Wednesday siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Trump, DC Police Chief Robert Contee III said. The people’s names and the circumstances of their death were not released during the late-night news conference with Contee and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) on Wednesday. Their deaths were in addition to the fatal shooting of a woman by a Capitol Police officer.
Also at the news conference, DC Mayor, Bowser (D) declared a public emergency in the city until Jan. 21, to “extend security through the inauguration,” which gives her more authority to draw on resources to maintain city security. Inauguration Day is January 20. Bowser called the attack on the Capitol an “affront on our American democracy” and implored city residents to abide by the city’s curfew. Bowser blamed President Trump for the rioting. “We saw an unprecedented attack on our American democracy incited by the United States President,” Bowser said. “He must be held accountable. His constant and divisive rhetoric led to the abhorrent actions we saw today.” After the first group of protesters breached the Capitol on Wednesday, D.C. Metropolitan Police took over handling the removal of crowds from the U.S. Capitol grounds. The Capitol police officers, overwhelmed by the crowds who broke into the Capitol building, took responsibility for leading lawmakers to safety and ejecting the relatively small groups of protesters who had gotten inside. Once those protesters were forced outside, D.C. police oversaw their removal from the external stairs, porticos and balconies of the Capitol. Very few people who breached the Capitol were arrested, and one law enforcement official said the reason was simply limited manpower. Officers didn’t have enough backup to take the time to arrest and detain those who had broken into what lawmakers Wednesday called “The People’s House.” All four living former Presidents — Barack Obama, George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter — denounced Wednesday’s violent storming of the U.S. Capitol, with two condemning President Trump by name for stoking the rioting. Obama said in a statement that history will remember violence “incited by a sitting President who has continued to baselessly lie about outcome of a lawful election.” But he also blamed “a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem” for playing along with Trump’s falsehoods, saying Republican leaders can either continue down a dark path or “choose reality.”
Clinton said that Wednesday’s “unprecedented assault on our Capitol, our Constitution, and our country” was long in the making. “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost,” Clinton tweeted. Condemnation also rained down from some members of Trump’s party in Congress: Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) described the incidence as “an insurrection, incited by the President of the United States.” Bush did not mention Trump or any other leader by name but criticized the politicians who “inflamed” those who stormed the Capitol building. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic — not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election,” Bush said in a statement. Calling the chaos an insurrection, Bush implored those disappointed by the outcome of the presidential election to put country over “the politics of the moment.” Carter said in a statement that Wednesday’s events were a “national tragedy,” but did not cite Trump or his supporters while striking a hopeful tone. “Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must,” he said.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.