Like the majority of Americans, Lipscomb junior Rachel Pavelich is still shaken by the violent and deadly assault on the Capitol that was aimed at upsetting the confirmation of the electoral college presidential landslide victory of Joe Biden.
“It was really disappointing to see our country like that,” said Pavelich, a fashion design major.
At least five people, including a Capitol police officer, died as the result of the armed insurrection organized and coordinated by right-wing extremist groups, according to law enforcement and U.S. intelligence.
The only thing Pavelich did notice that encouraged her during the insurrection that was incited by President Donald Trump, was the fact that party lines, in many cases, disappeared as the insurrectionists, some armed, pounded on the doors of the House chamber. “It struck me because it’s not about sides. It’s about uniting as Americans and helping each other. I feel like that’s what America is supposed to be.”
The insurrection led House Democrats to Monday introduce articles of impeachment against the president. There also is a move afoot to get Vice President Mike Pence to act on the 25th Amendment, which could remove Trump from office immediately. That move was stalled early Monday, but it still could happen.
Pence, who stood by his boss throughout the last several years, was a target of the rioters, who had been told by Trump that the vice president let him down by not blocking the confirmation of the electoral college votes that gave Joe Biden the presidency by a landslide.
When the rioters stormed the Capitol Wednesday, after being urged by Trump to take action there, a gallows was constructed outside the building and many rioters were chanting “Hang Mike Pence.”
It was the first armed occupation of the Capitol since the British stormed it in the War of 1812.
Congress was in the midst of confirming the electoral votes from the presidential election. It is a ceremonial function, as the votes already had been calculated and checked multiple times for errors as the president repeatedly lied that he had won “by a landslide” and that the election was stolen from him.
Because of his rants, multiple Republican senators – including the two from Tennessee – were planning on objecting to the confirmation, though any objections would not have changed the outcome.
The extremists had been asked to gather in D.C. by Trump in speeches and in Tweets.
With the fired-up crowd of extremists gathered near the White House, Trump held a rally encouraging the protesters to go to the Capitol. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” he said.
He told them he would go with them to the Capitol but instead went back inside to watch the violence as it played out on television.
The protesters became violent as they breached the outside barriers of the Capitol, which was placed on lockdown.
As doors and windows were broken down and the hundreds of violent insurrectionists entered the Capitol, congressional members were given gas masks and encouraged to take shelter.
Vice President Mike Pence – who was presiding over the confirmation – and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as well as other congressional leaders were taken to a secret sanctuary.
Insurrectionists caused chaos and violence. For example, one rioter put his feet on Pelosi’s desk while another stole her podium. Her suite of offices was trashed, as were the offices of many leaders.
Police declared the Capitol to be secure at 8 p.m. and Pence – who had told his boss he did not have the legal authority to overturn an election – calmly told his fellows in the chambers that it was time to get back to the business at hand.
Many Republican senators who had previously planned on objecting to electoral counts changed their minds.
Even Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump supporter, claimed, “Count me out. Enough is enough,” referring to any further delay of the confirmation and, on a personal level, disavowing his friendship with Trump.
Trump did not condemn the insurrection until the next day.
Although the 1,400 Capitol police were overwhelmed by the crowds – and more than 50 officers were injured, some fatally or seriously – there has been some discussion about the relative ease with which the seditionists were able to enter and leave, unfettered, the Capitol building.
Heleena Kabtimer, an International Business Management major, voiced how many people are feeling with respect to the police actions. “What did the police do?” said Heleena Kabtimer, International Business major at Lipscomb.
“They didn’t do anything. They let people walk in. If it was Black people, it would be different. You’re mad that we marched in the streets, but you get to break into the Capitol and replace the American flag with the Trump flag?”
“I honestly thought it was crazy that it even happened,” said psychology major Kiana Rafiei.
“My jaw genuinely dropped, because I know friends and family that live near the Capitol and they’ve told me that they’ll be jogging in the area and security is heavy.”
“They (Capitol police) will question you when you walk past so the fact that people got in, is really baffling.”
“The way the police handled the rioters and terrorists isn’t surprising, but it still hurt to see. I saw that some people that broke in were planning on taking hostages and everything, so the fact that police still didn’t act to stop them is really ridiculous considering how they reacted to the BLM sit-ins and protests.”
The long-term effects are things that the new administration, under Joe Biden, will have to deal with, regardless of any action against Trump this week.
“This event undoubtedly sowed doubt in the minds of Americans and many of those across the globe regarding the stability of American democracy,” said Dr. Susan Haynes, assistant professor of History, Politics and Philosophy.
“It highlighted that democracy is not something that can be taken for granted.”
She also pointed out the disagreement on how to handle Trump’s involvement. “Some say we must remove the President (either through impeachment, invoking the 25th Amendment), while others suggest resignation, and still others argue this is unnecessary and would cause a further divide.
“We are unified in our condemnation of the insurrection but not in our response.”
“All the individuals who broke into the Capitol … crossed the line from being protesters to being rioters,” she added.
There has been a federal manhunt in recent days as the FBI works with local law enforcement around the country to arrest insurrectionists they have identified on videos, some streamed by the criminals themselves.
Regardless of the actions this week, Joe Biden and his vice president-elect Kamala Harris will be inaugurated on Jan. 20.