Thursday, April 22, 2021

Wash. Mon. closed; fears of violence in 50 states


The FBI has warned of armed protests being planned for Washington and all 50 US state capitals in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden’s January 20 inauguration, a federal law enforcement source said on Monday, Reuters reports.

State House in Annapolis, Md. (Craig Fildes/Flickr Creative Commons)

In addition, the National Guard was authorized to send up to 15,000 troops to Washington, and tourists were barred from visiting the Washington Monument until January 24.

State governments are taking bold action in response to the perceived threat of violence during the next week or more.

Democratic officials in Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, sent out a public safety alert on Sunday, for example: “Over the past 48 hours, the online activity on social media has escalated to the point that we must take these threats seriously.”

Maryland officials also stepped up security in and around the State House, based on the potential for violent uprisings in the next seven days. Gov Larry Hogan said today that additional security measures are in place as federal law enforcement officials are monitoring online threats of similar mob attacks on all 50 state capitals.

“The Maryland State Police is aware of online information regarding the possibility of armed demonstrations in state capitals on January 17,” Maryland quoted Greg Shipley, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Police, as saying. “We remain in constant contact with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners regarding any potential events with a criminal nexus in Annapolis. If such an event is scheduled, the Maryland State Police will work in support of the Maryland Capitol Police, Annapolis Police Department, Anne Arundel County Police, and other public safety agencies to ensure adequate law enforcement resources are available to address any violations of law.”

Joining Mr Hogan, Virginia Gov Ralph Northam and DC Mayor Muriel Bowser are urging people to stay out of Washington for the inauguration.

Op-eds have been posted by many US students about the insurrection in the nation’s capital Wednesday. Student reporters from Illinois were no exception. One wondered what would happen next.

“The future of the country is scary right now, and many things are still unknown on how these upcoming weeks will turn out,” wrote Nik Pusic in The Trojan Times, the student newspaper at Cary-Grove High School in Cary. “Things are rapidly developing by the minute, and what we know right now may be much different by tomorrow. This is a time of great reflection for every American, as we continue to grapple with one of the darkest days of American history.”

Others considered what was lost or, at least, threatened by the events of Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

“The disgraceful Confederate flag was in our Capitol building—the same flag that has the ideology that slavery was a good thing,” wrote Ryan Glasper-Watson, who identifies as African-American, in Metea Media, the student newspaper at Metea Valley High School in Aurora. “‘When the looting starts, the shooting starts.’ Those words left Trump’s fingers as he tweeted this out when the riots and protests were at their peak last year. Where was the shooting when terrorists looted and stormed a government building? There is no comparison between looting a target than one of the biggest government buildings in the country and maybe in the world.”

Citing several events of January 6, Sadie Springer opines in The Clarion student newspaper at Riverside Brookfield High School that freedom of the press was also under attack.

“A video taken by William Turton, a Bloomberg reporter, was posted on Twitter,” she reminds us. “The video shows rioters stealing and smashing reporting equipment like cameras, microphones, and tripods. These white supremacists destroyed the gear of those trying to carry out the First Amendment. … According to The Washington Post, phrases like ‘Murder to the Media’ … were thrown around at the event, mainly targeted at journalists.

“These terrorists claim to be ‘Patriotic’ and chanted ‘U-S-A’ in the halls of the Capitol building,” she continued. “But their actions were quite to the contrary. They contradict themselves, professing their devotion to a nation that doesn’t even stand for the ideals they are fighting for.”

But in other ways, some students saw what happened in Washington last week as an accurate mirror on America.

“Wednesday’s pro-Trump Capitol terrorist attack was inevitable, and it should surprise no one,” wrote Graham Ambrose at New Trier High School in Winnetka.

“While this doesn’t represent America on an individual level, it does showcase our greatest failures as a society and how Trump has been able to exploit them,” he continues. “After all, Trump was never the cause of America’s systemic racism or its ever-widening political divide; he’s just a catalyst that fueled it. Systemic inequality and neo-Nazi organizations didn’t suddenly materialize under Trump, nor did political hostility or outlandish conspiracy theories. But all of those things were given a newfound shelter and more oxygen the moment this president announced his candidacy, and once he won, he wasted no time defaming his critics, bullying political opponents, and defiling all of our greatest institutions.”

Finally, after expressing dismay that a sitting president would incite a mob of his followers to violent insurrection with his words—”We are going to walk down to the Capitol … cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women … probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them, because you’ll never take back our country with weakness; you have to show strength, and you have to be strong”—Mackenzie Evans at Oak Forest High School expressed real concern for the future.

“I’m worried that there didn’t seem to be any feelings of sorrow or remorse among the perpetrators,” she wrote. “The absence of any such feelings shows just how far democracy has fallen in the United States. It was truly a sad day for people all across America and made us look like a joke to other countries. What little respect we still commanded has shriveled away.

“The nation’s political future seems in doubt,” she concludes. “One can only hope that things are corrected as soon as possible, but it will take time for anything to be done. Donald Trump leaving office would be an effective start. Still, fixing our democracy won’t happen overnight.”

Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.


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