January 6th 2021: The Day America Faced Political Fear


A scene of rioters still shouting in the Capitol building since being directed.

Last year began with a glass of American politics as 46th president, Joe R. Biden, was preparing to move into the White House as former vice president, Mike Pence, was confirming his victory just two weeks before inaugurating. January 6, 2021, was known as ‘one of the darkest days in US history’, according to CNN. Donald Trump, who lost to Biden in 2020, had decided to give a speech to express his prospects for attempting to overturn Biden’s victory, and he demanded that protestors, who were unmasked and wore unusual equipment, storm into the Capitol building. During this insurrection, protestors crowded in and repeatedly shouted, “we want Trump!” Pence, senators, representatives, and police officers were all traumatized while escaping with such a crowd of protestors nearly surrounding and trapping them, as well as destroying areas in the Capitol building. 

“The January 6th committee is still investigating to try to kind of figure out exactly what was going on behind the scenes and the hours and days leading up to that event,” said history teacher Joshua Meyers. “So I don’t think we will have the full story until that report comes out.” Donald Trump’s behavior shifted wildly during his time with Joe Biden in regards to being elected for presidency, and he felt so overwhelmed after having lost against him by over eight million votes. He repeatedly spread his disagreements through social media, thinking more about what he thought was widespread voter fraud. “He was encouraging people to not accept the results of the election all the way up to the protest on January 6th, that immediately preceded the breaking of the Capitol,” added Meyers.      

The insurrection at the Capitol had continued through the evening even after staff evacuated from the chamber and from the Capitol.

As Trump had kept this insurrection going that evening, the violence only stopped because he was encouraged to go on air and tell the rioters to go home. “I just read that Ivanka was one of the people texting him, encouraging Trump to go on air and try to persuade people to leave and to stop the violence among a host of others,” Meyers said. But again, Trump came up with turning the protest into an insurrection while giving his speech. “It was called the Stop The Steel Protest,” said Meyers, “it sounded to me like they were encouraging people to go to the Capitol and change the results of the election however they could do so.” 

Another wonder that’s been coming up is knowing the role of police officers. They were called down the day of the protest and victory confirmation, almost not prepared to be defeated by so many rioters. “When I was watching the events unfold, I got very angry because it appeared like the Capitol police were not doing as much as they could do to prevent people from coming in,” said Meyers, “And that was a good example of someone rushing to judgment when I found out in the days afterwards, how undermanned they were.” A majority of the police officers were undermined even more throughout the insurrection because they were trapped by different groups of rioters that headed toward them. “What the Capitol police were trying to do at that point was the best possible job they could under the circumstances,” said Meyers, “but clearly, they did not have enough protection at the Capitol. And I’m sure that the January 6th committee is going to be looking into that as well. What could the Capitol Police have done different?”

At one point during the riot, Ashli Babbitt, one of the rioters, had attempted to break through a glass door that she and other rioters in the front of that group were shattering. There was a police officer right by the door, and he shot Babbitt to death as soon as one part of her body went through the glass hole. “I actually cried when I saw that footage because it was NEPA stuff,” said Meyers. “My understanding was that that police officer was starting the Senate chamber where minutes before the Vice President of the United States was located.” This footage showed how Babbitt chose to keep doing what she wanted without knowing that she would get killed while starting to pass through the glass. “There was a very clear warning that the police said ‘stop or I will shoot, if you come in I will shoot’ or something along those lines,” said Meyers.  “And she ignored him, and she died as a result, and it’s a shame that the police officer was put in that situation.”    

When hearing the protestors outside the chamber, staff were hiding under chairs and other areas as they acknowledged that protestors wanted to attack them.

This violence was also laid out to prevent the senators, representatives, and Mike Pence from confirming Biden’s move-in into the White House. Everyone in the Senate Chamber felt angst while hearing the rioters storm in so they can attempt to overthrow the election themselves. “You can see a lot of terror in their faces, said Meyers, “I think a lot of people there really didn’t know what was going to happen. And what makes it even more scary is that now we know that there were people there who were trying to kidnap Mike Pence, who had plans to hurt people or kidnap people, which makes it even more scary that some of the plans that some of these people have for Mike Pence, and for Nancy Pelosi and others makes it even more terrifying,” he continued. There were obviously Republican senators and representatives in the chamber too, but they felt the same way as the democrats in the chamber with anxiety to escape. “I find it ironic that many of the Republicans in Congress that day who were probably really, really scared have since downplayed the events of the January 6 and tried to make it not a very big deal,” said Meyers. “That certainly upsets me because the Republicans that I saw in the chamber that day looked pretty darn scared. There are photographs of people huddled together like under the chairs. Every one of those people looks pretty scared to me.” 

January 6th was also a day that America was put at risk of more free and fair elections, and that they can scare America even more. “I think America’s response is still changing,” said Meyers. “I think many Republicans want to whitewash the event and basically give it less meaning and less significance. They say it was a group of isolated bad actors, that were independent operators and were not being encouraged or led by Trump or any of his officials, and that Democrats are blowing it out of proportion.” Comparing and contrasting political parties in the United States is still a big concept when an event occurs in the political, or scientific field. “And then you have the Democrats who are basically saying this is the first step in a plan to overthrow the government,” Meyers continued. “And we’re naive to think that this isn’t going to happen again, that this was the beginning, not the end, and I tend to fall on that side. I worry very much that there will be more attempts to overthrow free and fair elections in this country. That could lead to more political violence.” 

Another thing to learn about Donald Trump and his administration was the damage that he has done to the American people, which were eventually conflicts he wanted to fix not within the country, but only caring about himself and the administration. “We certainly didn’t learn the first time that Donald Trump is a danger to American democracy,” said Meyers. “I firmly believe that Trump is a danger to American democracy.” Trump is planning to run for president again in 2024, and if he were to win, America would reset back to how it was shaped during his first presidency compared to Joe Biden.

January 6th did not only impact the D.C. area, but America as a whole country because both political parties are mixed together, even though in each state there’s more who support one side than the other. “What I tried to teach my students is that democracy is fragile. And when you look across the board, there’s waning support for our most democratic institutions,” said Meyers. January 6th potentially could have made things worse for where political things are talked about, locally or nationally. “There’s not a whole lot of positivity around the media, and how the press has been running the news,” Meyers emphasized. “There’s decreasing support for the court system in the United States, especially the Supreme Court. There’s evidence all around that support for democratic institutions is weakening across the board. And we better be paying attention to that.” 

Mr. Meyers is persevering to get his students to understand how insurrections work since not everyone across the country had the same feelings, other than never forgetting that insurrection. “I tell my kids, explicitly my students, that this was an insurrection, and that we need to look up the word insurrection if people disagree with that, that they were being encouraged by what I call the ‘big lie’,” said Meyers. “The Big Lie is that there was widespread voter fraud. I just read a report that said in the six battleground states that Trump was claiming there was widespread voter fraud in, there were 475 cases out of I don’t know how many millions of votes cast. 475 individual cases does not throw an election.” Based on how Republicans think during political events, they seem to be the overthinkers and oppose everything. “The greatest threat to our democracy is Republicans continuing to believe that the election was stolen from Donald J. Trump,” Meyers continued. 

New York Times states that Donald Trump was the first president in American history who had to go through two impeachment trials. But on social media, he has said over and over that the 2020 election was rigged because of widespread voter fraud. Back in 2019, he was almost impeached for collabing with the Ukrainian president, and that same pattern took place during the impeachment trial as a result of the insurrection. The pattern was that the Senate wanted to keep him in political business, but the House would rather veto him. “I think he should have been impeached and I think he should have been convicted, both times,” said Meyers.