Guest Editorial: Former President Donald Trump does deserve the blame for violent Jan. 6 Capitol attack



Photo of the Capitol rotunda taken during the November 2019 National Scholastic Press Association journalism convention held in Washington, D.C. A radical faction of Trump supporters broke into the building Jan. 6.

Jasmine Lee

Recently, a fellow Sunny Hills student wrote an anonymous column arguing that former President Donald Trump was not solely responsible for the recent violent attack on the Capitol. 

The writer went on to say that the Capitol riot had peaceful intentions compared to the more destructive Black Lives Matter [BLM] movement protests that occurred over the past year.

However, the domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol directly demonstrated Trump’s incompetence and negligence as commander in chief.

Despite this, many hesitate to outright call this an act of domestic terrorism. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the definition of domestic terrorism is any act of danger that poses a threat to a population and violates the law of the United States; the Capitol riot is a textbook case of this.

Throughout the past year, Trump continually fanned the flames of hatred toward those who disagreed with him, emboldening his supporters with false claims of election fraud at the hands of the Democrats in order to preserve his grip on the presidency.

In a Dalton, Ga., speech on Jan. 5, Trump claimed — with no real evidence — that “we won this election, and we won it by a landslide.” 

Later, at the Save America rally on Jan.6, he cautioned his voters against staying complacent, even claiming that “if you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Considering statements like these, the rioters unsurprisingly felt empowered enough to breach one of the nation’s most emblematic buildings.

The violence prompted many, including the anonymous writer, to compare the attack on the Capitol to the “violent” BLM movement.

However, the BLM protests took place because of hundreds of years of social unrest that built up after the horrible and unjust treatment of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement and others in positions of power.

Unlike the BLM protests, the riot at the Capitol had no peaceful intentions, as people came in with guns, bombs and other deadly weapons.

Even if Trump supporters intended to “peacefully protest,” the minute they decided to breach a building as symbolic to American democracy as the Capitol, it undoubtedly became an act of domestic terrorism.

The anonymous student also went on to write, “While a Trump protest remained mostly peaceful before that one group decided to do some damage to Congress, an out-of-control, completely chaotic protest stemming from the shooting of an African American man ends up being portrayed as peaceful.”

Although a select number of people did loot and break into businesses during the BLM protests, that did not nullify the entire movement.

While the same logic can be applied to the Capitol riot, the BLM protests made up a nationwide movement in which 93% of participants protested peacefully, according to Time magazine. On the other hand, “established conservative insiders and activists” planned the Capitol riots with the sole purpose of scaring the masses and destabilizing our democratic process, according to The Washington Post.

Although a handful of Trump supporters peacefully protested, “at least 90 people have been arrested on charges ranging from misdemeanor curfew violations to felonies related to assaults on police officers, possessing illegal weapons and making death threats against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,” according to a Jan. 10 Associated Press article.

Again, this statistic further proves that the riots never began with peaceful intentions at all; the rioters came ready to incite violence and spread hate.

Supporters of the former president will further argue that he played no part in the mostly peaceful protests and that Trump even tried to prevent the violence once he became aware of it.

However, the former president’s reckless choices continued even after the terror occurred.

According to a Jan. 6 Forbes article, the former president “initially resisted requests to send in the National Guard, a delay that frustrated his aides, and the order to deploy those troops was ultimately placed by Pence rather than Trump.”

As the leader of the United States, Trump holds a responsibility to keep tension at bay and  respond appropriately to threats made to his citizens. His inability to fulfill this obligation not only demonstrates his stark ineptitude, but also proves him unworthy of his title.

So if he decides to run for president again in 2024, the Donald will NOT be getting my vote.