I recently took a visit to D.C., and before I left, I stopped by to visit The U.S. Capital. As I was glancing at it, I reflected on the moment many of us watched as the rioters broke into the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. As I was watching it live on my mobile device, I couldn't turn my eyes away because I was just in shock with what my eyes were witnessing. So many questions. First off, what am I looking at, and could my eyes be deceiving me? Did their spidey senses tingle and tell them there's a wall needin a climbin? Growing up, I was told not to even walk on someone's grass, let alone climb the side of the building. Time has passed, and we've had time to collect our thoughts on the matter, so now, let's talk about it.
What We Know
On January 6, the protesters initially gathered at a "Save America" rally; ironically, it would seem America needed to be saved from them. The rally was a result of the last November presidential election. Instead of accepting the change in leadership, the rioters would instead challenge it by rioting at the Capitol. Accepting the idea of America wanting a change in leadership was all too unrealistic, but the idea of voter fraud makes the most sense. The protestors arrived with a variety of weapons as well: stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats, and even flag poles. Let's not also forget the additional suspect who allegedly planted pipes bombs near the headquarters of the Democratic and Republican parties the night before the riot. As a result of these actions, five people lost their lives surrounding the riot, and many others were injured.
Out of 50 states, we know rioters came from 43 of them. The government said it had issued a combined total of over 900 search warrants. The Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, Texas Freedom Force, and the conspiracy ideology QAnon was in attendance. Honestly, I never knew these groups existed before the riot, but I am woke now. Some of the members have connections to the military and law enforcement. Others were charged for conspiracy activity for allegedly coordinating with others to commit an offense before and during the attack. The rioters may not have fired any shots, but their intent was to harm others; this is what we know.
Did Trump's words at the rally incite violence?
Short answer, yes. During the rally, Trump encouraged everyone present to march on Congress. He not only encouraged but suggested he would march along with his supporters, but have we've seen him march at all, though? Let's also not forget the attack took place moments after our leader's persuasion at this time. He mentioned we have to fight and show strength, but also added very peacefully and patriotically. The issue was, in part, the message itself and the timing of delivering the news as well. Incitement is not a crime under the First Amendment unless it meets specific criteria. There has to be intent to cause violence and likely to cause violence. Yall, he knew there was a high chance the individuals in the crowd were ready, if not already had the intent to be violent. He did nothing to discourage but encourage. I do not believe his intention was for his words to result in murder, but he did not want to remain silent, either.
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VIDEO CREDIT: John Harrington / Zuma Presa
Looking Into the Future
We choose our leaders because we have found a similarity in them. The similarity may be their vision, or maybe it's with their morals and values. When it comes to leadership, sometimes it's not what we do, but often what we do not do. As leaders, we need to question and listen more because that's part of making a difference. The events that took place on January 6, we should all be questioning and listening. What we saw describes the basis of the Critical Race Theory. Race is a social construct, and racism isn't solely the product of bias or prejudice, but it's also represented within our legal systems and policies. At this point, racism has become embedded within everyday life, so people, white or nonwhite, make racist choices without intending to be racist. The theory considers our outcomes, not so much the individual. Acting in hatred and violence leads to further division, which is seen in our past and present.
We witnessed, last summer, the Black Lives Matter protesters being tear-gassed, shot with rubber bullets, locked up, and for far less compared to the rioters at the Capitol. Understanding conditions that underpin what makes a person choose to follow through with the intent to dehumanize, demean, harm, or destroy is vital to acknowledge and address. Remember, we are questioning and listening. Understanding how others are recruited to do deeds that deprive others of their dignity and humanity is how we can make a difference in other areas like poverty and racism. Good people make bad choices; what could make me do the same thing? We are all a product of our environment; therefore, we should ask what influences me from my environment to engage in acts I know are wrong? I leave you here with these last thoughts. Listen more effectively, and ask powerful questions that influence decisions. That's how you get things done and nurture more effective leaders.
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