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Say It With Me Now, “They’re Not Protestors”

At this point, we’ve all heard about the violent, unlawful, and jaw-dropping riot at the Capitol. I’ve taken the day to sit with my thoughts and absorb everything that happened and the aftermath of it all. Tensions are high, threats of using the 25th amendment are flying around, and there’s honestly a lot to unpack from this situation. 

Donald Trump is a weak and spineless excuse for a leader. He is, without a doubt, at fault in this entire situation. If you didn’t know it then, well you sure know it now. Over the last four years of his presidency, Donald Trump has built a base with a foundation on hate and intolerance that, as we witnessed last night, mirrors a militia more than it does a group of constituents. In the last two months, President Trump has failed to acknowledge and accept the fact that he lost the election, fair and square. He goes on long, repetitive, and honestly exhausting tirades day after day accusing the Democratic party and the Electoral College of stealing this election from him. Let me make this clear, Donald Trump lost, he did not win, there was no cheating, no stealing, and no conspiracy against him. The American people used their right to vote and pushed him right out of the oval office. In response to his loss, he has continued to push forward this rhetoric and in the process incited violence via subliminal messaging to his base. 

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While Trump did not personally lead the force into the capitol, he encouraged the mob at the now-infamous “Save America March.” In his speech he said, “We are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we are probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them — because you will never take back our country with weakness.” He then went on to publicly encourage his supporters “to walk down to the capitol” after once again condemning the outcome of the presidential race. He then went to hide behind his pearly white gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave where he went on a Twitter rampage about Mike Pence and how he “didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution.” With this, the then “protestors” became dangerous rioters, and some are even calling them domestic terrorists. They broke into the capitol building, entirely overpowering Capitol Police (what about blue lives?), and putting lawmakers and members of Congress in a position where they had to fear for their lives. Not only this, but they went on to vandalize, steal, and take pictures of it all. Some members of the riot even took trophies from Nancy Pelosi’s office. The worst part of this is the fact that none of these rioters had any shame or even attempted to hide their identity. Pictures and video evidence went on to flood through social media and I hope that our government tracks each of them down and makes them pay for what they did. 

Donald Trump did not condemn these heinous acts, and in fact, he was in no rush to send in help or call the National Guard. It took the Vice President, who was rushed away from the chamber and in hiding, to make a call and mobilize the DC National Guard. In the midst of the chaos, Trump released a video in which he seemed to sympathize with the violence, saying he understood that they were hurt and once again mentioning the fact that the election was stolen. Toward the end of the video he even said, “We love you, you’re very special.” That is not the way to address people that terrorized our lawmakers, our congress, our Capitol, and our country for hours. It is not until today, over 24 hours after the fact, that Trump conceded and in his own way condemned the acts that he encouraged just last night. 

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I could go on and on about this, but let me end on this note: the Republican right had a lot to say about the mostly peaceful protests over the summer that started due to the unlawful and unjust death of George Floyd. They had a lot to say when the American people were fighting against racial injustices. Today, I did not see the same energy toward this aggressive riot. Today I saw Republicans lay down, roll over, close their eyes, and pretend that what was happening was in the name of an “unfair election process.” The double standard is louder than ever before. Had these people been black or brown, the reaction would have been drastically different. Let us never forget that white “protestors” will always be presumed to be “passionate and strong-willed,” but black protestors are automatically “angry and violent.” Let us never forget the people of this country who voted for Trump are just as responsible as the people who stormed the Capitol. Let us never forget that there are two Americas.

Estela Suarez

U Mass Amherst '22

Estela is a senior at the University of Massachusetts. She is a communication major interested in social media and writing. She enjoys spending time with friends and family and spending time at the beach in her home-state of Florida.
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