“This is not the first time that a group of Americans decided that winning an election was more important than maintaining a democracy. In fact, it’s because of those other examples that we know which sociopolitical trends to beware of.
On Nov. 10, 1898, following a municipal election that had installed an integrated city council, white elites from the city of Wilmington, North Carolina mobilized a mob that burned down the town’s Black newspaper, killed hundreds of Black residents and forced the newly elected council members to resign at gunpoint. It was a riot, organized and planned in advance, and aided by people in charge of the government so they could stay in power — pesky electoral outcomes be damned.”
“US Capitol Police were aware of the potential for violence specifically targeting Congress on January 6, at least three days before pro-Trump insurgents overwhelmed USCP officers and stormed the US Capitol, according to a Friday scoop by the Washington Post.
A January 3 memo from the Capitol Police intelligence division, parts of which were obtained by the Post, highlights the threat of violence by supporters of President Donald Trump in striking detail — and only adds to confusion about how the attack occurred anyway.
According to the memo, “supporters of the current president see January 6, 2021” — the day Congress convened to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory — “as the last opportunity to overturn the results of the presidential election.”
“This sense of desperation and disappointment may lead to more of an incentive to become violent,” the portion of the memo obtained by the Post continues. “Unlike previous post-election protests, the targets of the pro-Trump supporters are not necessarily the counter-protesters as they were previously, but rather Congress itself is the target on the 6th.”
The USCP memo also warned that the presence of “white supremacists, militia members, and others who actively promote violence, may lead to a significantly dangerous situation for law enforcement and the general public alike.”
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened.”
“The memo from the Capitol Police’s intelligence division isn’t the only warning law enforcement agencies gave leading up to the violent events of January 6. On January 5 — just one day before the attack — an internal report produced by the FBI’s field office in Norfolk, Virginia, warned of online calls for “war.””
“Sund was privy to the Capitol Police intelligence assessment ahead of January 6, and he reportedly asked the sergeants at arms for both chambers of Congress to put National Guard forces on emergency standby.
Sund’s request was ultimately denied, and National Guard troops were slow to respond as the attack unfolded, due at least in part to restrictions imposed by the Pentagon, which were first reported by the Washington Post.
In addition to Sund, both sergeants at arms have resigned their positions over the attack.”
“Antifa is a real threat, and I’ve spent years documenting its illiberal activities. Most recently, antifa protested a book store for daring to sell a book by the antifa-critical writer Andy Ngo. (The predictable result of their efforts was that Ngo’s book surged to the top of the Amazon bestsellers list.)
But that doesn’t mean it’s fair to pin every example of mob violence on antifa. We know who caused the Capitol riots: supporters of the president who heard his call to protest the outcome of the 2020 election and took action.”
“Even before last week’s deadly invasion of the Capitol, McConnell, to his credit, forcefully rejected efforts to challenge duly certified electoral votes for Biden. “If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral,” he warned less than an hour before he was forced to flee the president’s enraged fans. “We would never see the whole nation accept an election again,” he added, and “every four years would be a scramble for power at all cost.”
Based on “sweeping conspiracy theories,” McConnell noted, “President Trump claims the election was stolen,” but “nothing before us proves illegality anywhere near the massive scale…that would have tipped the entire election.” He added that “public doubt alone” cannot “justify a radical break” from historical practice “when the doubt itself was incited without evidence.”
These were strong words, but they came two months too late. From the moment that Trump began insisting that he actually won the election by a landslide, it was clear that the president’s conviction had no basis in reality. Yet McConnell humored Trump, neither backing nor rejecting his wild claims, based on the premise that Biden’s victory should not be conceded until the president had exhausted his legal options and the Electoral College had met. In the meantime, the fantasy underlying last week’s riot grew and spread, unchallenged by all but a few Republican legislators.”
“Even McConnell and Pence are models of bravery compared to Sens. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) and Josh Hawley (R–Mo.), who led the legally groundless objections to Biden’s electoral votes in the Senate. In doing so, they cynically and recklessly reinforced the twin delusions that gave rise to last week’s violence: that Trump won the election and that Biden’s inauguration could still be prevented.
At the same time, neither Cruz nor Hawley had the guts to explicitly endorse those beliefs. They calculated that they could reap the political benefits of kowtowing to the president’s supporters without paying the political cost of looking like kooks. It apparently never entered the minds of these two Ivy League lawyers that they might pay a cost for so blatantly trying to advance their careers by sacrificing their supposed devotion to the Constitution. The crucial question for the Republican Party now is whether they were right to ignore that possibility.”
“Cheney is the highest-ranking Republican to commit to backing impeachment so far. In a scathing statement, she wrote that “the President of the United States summoned this mob, assembled the mob, and lit the flame of this attack. Everything that followed was his doing.”
Cheney’s statement continues: “The President could have immediately and forcefully intervened to stop the violence. He did not. There has never been a greater betrayal by a President of the United States of his office and his oath to the Constitution.”
Not long before Cheney’s statement, Rep. John Katko (NY) became the first elected Republican member of Congress to commit to backing this impeachment. “To allow the president of the United States to incite this attack without consequence is a direct threat to the future of our democracy,” Katko said in his own statement. “For that reason, I cannot sit by without taking action.” A third House Republican, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (IL), announced his support for impeachment, too.”
“The precise composition of the mob that forced its way into the Capitol on Wednesday, disrupting sessions of both houses of Congress and leaving a police officer and four others dead, remains unknown. But a review by a ProPublica-FRONTLINE team that has been tracking far-right movements for the past three years shows that the crowd included members of the Proud Boys and other groups with violent ideologies. Videos reveal the presence of several noted hardcore nativists and white nationalists who participated in the 2017 white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia”
“in December, as the group’s leaders planned to flood Washington to oppose the certification of the Electoral College vote this week for President-elect Joe Biden, they decided to do something different.
“The ProudBoys will turn out in record numbers on Jan 6th but this time with a twist…,” Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, the group’s president, wrote in a late-December post on Parler, a social media platform that has become popular with right-wing activists and conservatives. “We will not be wearing our traditional Black and Yellow. We will be incognito and we will spread across downtown DC in smaller teams. And who knows….we might dress in all BLACK for the occasion.””
“A journalist working with ProPublica and FRONTLINE encountered members of the Proud Boys in dark clothes walking through Washington on the night before the attack. The four men posed for a photo and confirmed their membership in the group. Few participants involved in the Capitol siege were seen wearing Proud Boys colors or logos.”
“since the incident, Proud Boys social media channels have flaunted their direct role in the attack and looting of the Capitol.
One prominent Proud Boys account encouraged rioters as the chaos was unfolding: “Hold your ground!!!… DO NOT GO HOME. WE ARE ON THE CUSP OF SAVING THE CONSTITUTION.””
“eight men, whose movements were captured on video, were identified by ProPublica and FRONTLINE as members of the Oath Keepers, a long-standing militia group that has pledged to ignite a civil war on behalf of Trump. Members of the group joined the protesters and insurrectionists flooding into the Capitol. Footage from later in the day shows Oath Keepers dragging a wounded comrade out of the building.”
“Several other of the participants ProPublica and FRONTLINE identified from video have direct links to the white nationalist movement, which has seen a resurgence of activity during the Trump era.
One was Nick Fuentes, an internet personality who streams a daily talk show on DLive, an alternative social media platform. Fuentes, who marched in Charlottesville during the 2017 white power rally there, speaks frequently in anti-Semitic terms and pontificates on the need to protect America’s white heritage from the ongoing shift in the nation’s demographics. He has publicly denied believing in white nationalism but has said that he considers himself a “white majoritarian.””
“Another figure inside the Capitol with ties to white nationalists was Tim Gionet, a livestreamer who uses the handle Baked Alaska and who participated in the Charlottesville rally, which left one woman dead. Gionet was photographed within the Capitol and apparently used DLive to stream from within the building as events unfolded.”
“Other extremist figures present either at the rally or within the Capitol included Vincent James Foxx, an online propagandist for the Rise Above Movement, a now-defunct Southern California white supremacist group.
Also on scene: Gabe Brown, a New Englander who helped create Anticom, a now-defunct organization devoted to physically combating leftists. In 2017, Anticom members posted a vast trove of bomb-making manuals to a private online chatroom.”
“Photos from within the Capitol showed one unidentified man carrying a Confederate battle flag and another wearing a sweatshirt emblazoned with a skull and the words “Camp Auschwitz,” a reference to the infamous Nazi death camp.”
“After the siege, a Boogaloo Bois group called the Last Sons of Liberty, which includes militants from Virginia, posted a video to Parler purporting to document their role in the incident — a clip that shows members inside the Capitol. A loose-knit confederation of anti-government militants, the Boogaloo Bois have been tied to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and to the murder of two law enforcement officers in California. ProPublica and FRONTLINE have been unable to independently confirm their involvement.”
“The Proud Boys also celebrated on social media. On Parler, one Proud Boys leader posted a photo of members of Congress cowering in fear and captioned it with a menacing statement: “Today you found out. The power of the people will not be denied.””
“the whiteness of the insurrectionists acted as a shield — protecting them from being seen as a threat before, and while, they stormed the Capitol. For activists who endured violence at the hands of police when they were merely asking for them to stop executing Black people, this inequity is why they protested in the first place.”
“As I reported in September, research from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project found that out of 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests across 2,400 locations across the country, 93 percent of them were peaceful — yet images of burning and headlines of looting were plentiful, with the president referring to the protesters as “thugs.”
New research from the organization compares the difference in law enforcement response between left-wing protests (anti-Trump, pro-Biden, Count Every Vote, Black Lives Matter, Abolish ICE) and right-wing protests (pro-Trump, anti-Biden, Back the Blue, QAnon, Stop the Steal, etc.), finding that law enforcement was more than twice as likely to use force against liberal demonstrations between May and November.”
“What’s evident is that the organizers of Wednesday’s rallies were not taken seriously, as white extremists are often infantilized and given room to work out their feelings and blow off steam. We are told we need to listen to them, to try to understand their plight and psychology.”
“In the days since the infiltration, footage that Ryan called “disturbing” has emerged of Capitol Police officers standing by while pro-Trump insurrectionists file into the building. Other clips, including one where an officer appears to take a selfie with one of the rioters, have also elicited concern on Capitol Hill.
Additionally, the New York Times reported Thursday that a Capitol Police officer offered rioters directions to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office, while another rioter told CNN, “The cops were very cool. They were like, ‘Hey guys, have a good night.’ … You can see that some of them are on our side.”
Those reports emerge as a growing number of House Democrats express concern about how events unfolded Wednesday. On Friday, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn told SiriusXM that rioters “went where you won’t find my name, but they found where I was supposed to be,” noting that they found his unmarked office, in which he says he does most of his work, while seeming to pass over his ceremonial one. “So something else was going on untoward here,” Clyburn said.”
“Beyond specific worries about potential internal USCP support for the rioters, some members of Congress have pointed out the jarring disparity in police use of force between Wednesday’s attack and Black Lives Matter protests in DC last summer.”
“Whatever the reason, Democrats appear set on ensuring accountability for this week’s failures by the Capitol Police and other congressional security.
“There was a strategic breakdown, for sure,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday after the siege. “You can bet your ass we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
And there has already been a leadership shakeup. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund submitted his resignation Thursday amid sustained criticism, and after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for him to do so.
The Senate sergeant-at-arms also resigned earlier this week after Schumer said he planned to fire him upon becoming majority leader on January 20. Pelosi, meanwhile, indicated at her weekly Thursday press conference that a resignation from the House sergeant-at-arms would be forthcoming.”