Wisconsinites Have Mixed Emotions on Capitol Riots
January 12, 2021
By Mary Hookham
Were they members of Antifa? Supporters of President Trump? Why all the violence and vandalism? Why couldn’t the Capitol police stop them? Will they be prosecuted? Is this the start of a revolution?
Americans find themselves asking so many questions after the January 6, 2021 vandalism of and riots at the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. during what was supposed to be the official certification process for President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election. But one thing is for sure: Wisconsinites are divided on how they feel about this incident and what it means for the future of America.
“[These events] really put the U.S. in a negative light with our allies and enemies around the world,” said Ann Valley of Madison.
The world watched as rioters climbed walls to fill the outside steps on the Capitol, smashed windows and doors, charged police officers and allegedly placed explosive devices around the grounds. When rioters got inside the building, they chased police officers through hallways, broke into lawmakers’ offices and stole property.
Officer Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer and veteran of the United States Air National Guard, was beaten to death during the riots.
“It was a pointless display at the Capitol,” said Shane Simplot of Beloit. “No one should’ve rioted, no one shouldn’t died.”
At least four other people died during the riots. One rioter was shot by Capitol police while three others died of alternative causes related to the violence.
President Trump was silent during much of the rioting as he watched from the West Wing. After several hours, he released a video asking rioters to remain peaceful.
“President Trump’s reaction was as good as he could’ve done,” said Simplot. “In my opinion, he spent too much time after the election saying it was rigged and not enough time trying to stand up to Georgia Republicans to ensure it wasn’t a “unified government” after the runoff.”
Of President-elect Biden’s response to the riots, Simplot believes trouble like this will only get worse because Biden threw the issue of race into the fire. It will become more of an us versus them scenario, said Simplot.
Juda resident Krista Bethke had a completely different priority on the day of the riots: the wellbeing of her family. Her 13-year-old daughter felt hopelessness and despair as she watched the events unfolding.
“She’s really pissed at the adults acting like toddlers and dividing our country; she told me all this while she was sobbing,” Bethke said. “I’m so proud of her understanding and I believe her generation will have had enough and invest in a better tomorrow if only we can give them that chance.”
Carol Johnson of Milton believes the day’s events are just the beginning, and they are already having a negative effect on the use of free speech. As President Trump is now banned from social media, debates are happening all around about how ethical this move is for the major social media networks like Twitter and Facebook.
“I hope the Republican and Democratic parties will work harder than ever to make changes but time will tell,” said Johnson.
Valley also believes the country will witness more violence as the Biden administration comes in next week. She said it’s up to our country’s leaders to maintain order.
“Leaders must denounce such extreme acts,” she said. “Encourage people to create change in more constructive ways, educate yourself, contact your senators and representatives, and come up with solutions to the issues you believe in.”
Johnson echoes Valley, urging Americans to educate themselves, but she hopes the country makes examples of the rioters.
“[I want] charges filed and examples made,” said Johnson. “A show of unity between Republicans and Democrats; it’s time to learn from the past, time to re-educate, re-examine, re-build.”