‘Outrage, horror and condemnation’; SAC reacts to D.C. riots


Samuel Corum

Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 in an effort to delay the certification of the Electoral College votes.

Elisa Verdi, Crier Staff

Two days after Pro-Trump riots erupted in Washington D.C., interrupting the electoral college’s ceremonial proceedings to confirm Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States, Americans across the nation are processing the violence and chaos that occurred in our nation’s capital. The riots, which began after a Trump rally outside of the White House earlier that afternoon, resulted in the deaths of 4 individuals and left 14 law enforcement officers injured.

The nation watched in horror as the windows of the Capitol Building were smashed, and lawmakers were rushed out of its halls for the first time since the September 11th terrorist attacks in 2001. An undeniably momentous day in American history, citizens and lawmakers alike are calling for action, and are expressing their fears and concerns for the foreseeable future. 

During a press conference Thursday, attended by Crier staff, New Hampshire Senator Maggie Hassan discussed the riots saying, “This wasn’t a protest, it was insurrection. We cannot let efforts like this stop us from doing our job… we are a nation of laws, not men, and we are at our best when we realize this. We have a lot of work to do.”

When asked what Hassan had to say to the young Americans who are frustrated with the way the riots were handled by law enforcement, compared to the way they approached the Black Lives Matter protests last June, she responded by saying, “There is going to be a very comprehensive and serious review. The Capitol police put themselves in harm’s way, and I’m really grateful. There is a difference between the front-line people doing their jobs and those who planned their resources. A full infraction report is needed.”

Cassandra Levesque, a Democratic Representative in the New Hampshire House of Representatives for District 4, shared her reaction to the riots. “We cannot let hate seep into the fabric of our country. We must rise above this. We need leaders! Leaders who will not play games or bow down to the pressures placed on them, but rise up to the positions they have been put in” Levesque stated.

When asked about his initial reactions and thoughts to Wednesday’s riots, Saint Anselm College history professor Matthew Masur responded by stating that “The riot was definitely shocking. I can’t really think of anything comparable in American history. We’ve had plenty of demonstrations in Washington… but rioters actually invading the U.S Capitol is unprecedented.”

When asked if President Trump played a role in in the riots, Masur said “Trump undoubtedly contributed to the riots. He has been provoking his supporters for weeks. In some ways, the resulting riots aren’t at all surprising, considering his behavior.”

Executive Director of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Neville Levesque weighed in, adding that “This is a watershed moment for Republicans… a moment when the fever was broken, and they lost a lot of supporters.” 

After discussing how he believes there will be an investigation into Wednesday’s riots, Levesque adds that, “In America, there are some sacred things, and the Capitol is one of the… [this is] a national stain on our Republic. There are moments that wake people up to certain realities, like Kent State and revealing Nixon’s lies in Watergate. This is one of the moments support [for Republicans] is dissipated”. 

From the Republican standpoint, Junior Tyler Cullen, Chairman of Saint Anselm College’s College Republicans, shares his perspective. 

When asked about the initial response and reaction of the Republican party to the riots, he says, “The response was outrage, horror and condemnation…The perpetrators perverted the values of the party, and they are not patriots. The reaction from Republicans in our Gen Z age group was particularly immediate and forceful.”

In response to being asked about the difference between the Republican Party and President Trump’s Republican Party, Cullen states “The difference between the Republican Party and Trump’s Republican Party is simple: the members of the Republican Party support its ethos and platform more than any one figure, while those in the Trump Republican party support Donald Trump the man more than the ideas of the party.”

“There are some who supported Donald Trump to the exclusion of everything else, including the party platform and even the rule of law. This is the group that stormed the Capitol. It was never about a fair election for them; it was about keeping Donald Trump in power even after he lost the election,” stated Cullen.

While considering next steps for the Republican Party, Cullen said “The next several years are going to be a period of introspection for the GOP… The GOP needs to find its roots, and it needs to come into the midterms in 2022 and the presidential election in 2024 with a clear message about what it believes and why voters should support it.”

As many Republican lawmakers and leaders are beginning to distance themselves from President Trump, Cullen agrees with this mode of action. However, Cullen also feels it would be a “foolishly knee-jerk reaction to unconditionally disavow everything President Trump has done during the last four years… should we disregard the progress we’ve made towards peace in the Middle East simply because President Trump negotiated the peace deals? That would be absurd.”

“It is important to separate genuine accomplishments from flaws and missteps, and President Trump is no exception to that rule” Cullen added. “That said, his response to the Capitol riots demonstrates that he is not fit to lead the country any longer. There is no excuse and no possible way to give him the benefit of the doubt. Our country was in crisis, and he failed to rise to the challenge. I don’t believe he caused those extremists to storm the building, but I do believe his recent rhetoric contributed to their collective decision to transition from peaceful protest to violent action. That is indefensible. As I mentioned previously, it is time for the GOP as a whole to do some soul-searching.