Students Shocked by Violence at the Capitol

On January 6, students along with citizens across the country were left in shock after learning of the unrest at the Capitol building in Washington DC.

At 1:50 pm, rioters ignited by what they believed was a rigged Presidential election (despite no evidence of widespread fraud), tore through barricades and made their way up stairs on both sides of the building as congressional members remained inside during a joint session to certify election results, oblivious to the danger going on outside.

Minutes later, the mob crashed their way past police officers to make it inside the building. Some congressional members were able to evacuate shortly before the rioters entered, while others were stuck taking cover in their chambers as the rioters pounded on the doors. The siege continued, and three hours passed before the sergeant-at-arms declared the building secure.

The event left four dead and several others injured. Americans across the country were left confused, horrified, and at a loss of hope. Students — home attending classes virtually — watched and learned from television and social media on that historic day. Many were angered by what happened. 

“It was a disgrace and a national embarrassment,” Senior Lauren Jones said.

Junior Sara Lee said she was “embarrassed” by the event. “Is this really what we have stooped to? It’s horrific.” 

Senior Emma Claire Everett blames the violence on ignorance — “not only the ignorance of many of those who breached the Capitol, but also of those who have watched it transpire.”

She does not believe everyone understands the dire threat to democracy.

“I don’t believe most of these people understand the severity of what they’ve done and the disgrace their actions are to our nation,” she said.

She hopes everyone realizes how close the insurrectionists came to a coup.

“If they had been able to get to our officials, to our Vice President, they truly would have had the ability for a complete overthrow of our government,” she said. “We need to respect the gravity of the situation and be sure to never let anything like it come close to happening again.”

Junior Sarah Jones said the storming of the Capitol “was very wrong and disrespectful”, but she does not blame it solely on President Trump and his supporters.

“I believe that there were more people involved in these actions,” she said.

Mackenzie Finney said it was a bad start to what everyone was hoping would be a better new year. 

“I thought we would be leaving that vibe in 2020,” she said. 

She does not believe the country can unify unless people are more open-minded.

“Right now many Americans are closed off to tolerating opposing feelings and opinions,” she said. 

Change has to come from individuals, not politicians, she said.

“Bottom line is the division in America is a choice, made by none other than the American people,” she said. “The key to a mature debate is trying to truly understand the other side, rather than listening just to find ways to rip each other apart.” 

Others expressed hope that the country could unify and move on. 

“I don’t think letting these events foreshadow the future of our country does any good,” Lauren said. “It’s time to come together as a country and to put aside our political differences.”

Sarah Jones believes the way to unify the country is to change the two-party system, along with changing individual attitudes.

“It takes the willingness of the people to put their differences aside and realize that unity is more important than ridiculous political parties,” she said.

She said she plans to take personal action to improve the country.

“I will vote, and spread awareness of what’s right and what’s wrong,” she said. She also plans to try to listen to others’ views on issues. “However, if I do disagree I will remain respectful by giving an explanation on why I disagree.” 

Despite all that happened, Emma Claire said America is still a great country.

“American freedoms are far beyond most other places in the world,” she said. “We’re also blessed with a fantastic standard of living compared to other countries.”

Sara Lee also said she still appreciates living in America and that they violence at the Capitol likely will not have a big effect on her future.

“I’m very privileged,” she said.