Supporters of President Donald Trump breached the U.S. Capitol doors on Jan. 6 despite President Trump’s plea in a tweet at 1:13 p.m. that said, “Everyone at the U.S. Capitol… remain peaceful. No violence!” The tweet has since been removed, as President Trump has recently been banned from Twitter. Five people were killed, including a United States Capitol Police officer according to National Public Radio and other news sources.
One woman, identified as Ashli Babbitt, was shot by a police officer and died from her injuries shortly after, as was stated in a press release on Jan. 7. Both law enforcement individuals and civilians were injured during the insurrection.
Earlier that day, Trump spoke at a “Save America” rally in Washington D.C., urging Republicans to march to the Capitol.
“After this, we’re going to walk down and I’ll be there with you,” Trump stated in his speech. “We’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women.”
Trump’s supporters did not cheer on any senators. Instead, they forced their way into the Capitol. Members of Congress protected themselves by hiding behind seats and desks before they were evacuated for their safety. Congress had been inside the Capitol confirming electoral votes for the 2020 election.
“These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Police Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants, and took up other weapons against our officers,” said Steven Sund, United States Capitol Police Chief in a press release on Jan. 7. “They were determined to enter into the Capitol Building by causing great damage.”
Hours after the Capitol was cleared, Congress continued validating the votes, confirming at 4 a.m. on Jan. 7 that Joe Biden had won the presidential election, according to an article published by Associated Press News.
Students at BYU-Idaho expressed shock at these events.
“A kindergarten class has better order than the country right now,” said Jordan McGrath, a senior studying psychology.
He believes that people on both sides of the political spectrum have been behaving poorly.
Jacob Stafford, a sophomore studying political science, said that, in situations like this, though the actions should not be condoned, both the left and the right feel that they are defending their liberties.
“On both sides they feel as if they’re not being represented anymore,” Stafford said. “They feel like their liberty is at stake so they’re taking extreme measures.”
He referred to Seattle’s creation of a police-free zone — Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, also referred to as “Chaz” — during the Black Lives Matter movement.
A sign stood at one of the zone’s areas, stating, “We’re not leaving until our demands are met,” listing those needs as defunding the police, freeing protesters and funding Black communities. Stafford believes this was another act of people fighting for their liberties in a drastic way, as they don’t see a better way to enact their political ideals.
“They want a paradigm shift,” Stafford said, referring to both the autonomous zone and Trump supporters storming the Capitol. “This is the only way people think that they can achieve it — to take up arms or storm capitol buildings.”
Stafford mentioned that citizens may be frustrated with the regular legislative process because of the amount of time a bill takes to get passed. According to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group, it takes 153 days on average for a bill to become a law. For this reason, Stafford believes citizens may feel the need to act immediately, especially if it’s concerning a sensitive topic that they believe requires swift action.
The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting… the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Steven Sund, the United States Capitol Police Chief, believes the rioters’ actions did not align with constitutional principles.
“These mass riots were not First Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behaviors,” Sund said.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints do not condone criminal behavior of any kind. Rather, living as law-abiding citizens is a core value of the Church. This means when there is disagreement over political policies, they seek reformation in a lawful way that follows the country’s legislative procedures.
“We peacefully accept the results of elections,” said President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, in a recent general conference address. “We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome.”
When asked how BYU-I students can stand up for their political views while staying non-violent and law-abiding, Stafford mentioned how he finds it beneficial to have a civil, sit-down conversation with people who disagree with him so they can discuss the problem and potential solutions.
He believes that finding a compromise between the two parties is crucial to understanding one another.
“How do I make a difference legally and not through violence?” Stafford said. “The only possible way is through kindness and finding some kind of common ground.”