1/20/2021, noon
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, after a speech by Donald Trump at the March to Save America Rally, insurrectionists stormed the ...
Congresswoman Robin Kelly
 Insurrection follows continuum of conflict


      On Wednesday, Jan. 6, after a speech by Donald Trump at the March to Save America Rally, insurrectionists stormed the United States Capitol. Elected officials have detailed their experiences from that day, a day in which Congress was in session to certify the election of Joe Biden as President of the United States. Weeks later, people are still trying to make sense of what happened and to understand what led to it.
      Congresswoman Robin Kelly said that on Jan. 6, she was in the gallery of the House and while she heard little things, the next thing she knew, they were pulling House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., off the floor and had already grabbed the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence.
    Then, House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, D-SC, was grabbed off the floor. Kelly said there were 30-40 people upstairs in the gallery and they were trapped because they were locked in.
Kelly said they were on the Democratic side and went to the Republican side. She said she heard a shot fired and was told to get down.
    “We were on our hands and knees and we hid behind the short little wall that’s in front of the seats on the upper level. And, we were there until they told us get up, and run out,” she said.
     Kelly said they heard three knocks but weren’t sure if it was the rioters or the Capitol Police. She said it was the Capitol Police. She said they ran through what felt like a maze to get to the undisclosed location to safety.
    “We saw the guys laying on the ground with the Capitol Police with guns at them, the ones they caught. It felt chaotic, it was scary, it was unbelievable,” she said.
    Kelly said while they knew something was going on, they didn’t know it was at the level of what transpired on that day. She said she didn’t feel frightened at the beginning of the day. She said she just felt like they were insulated in the Capitol. They didn’t know how many people there were outside. She said the only thing they heard was that there was a breach and people might have to get under their chairs. She said people started to put two and two together.
     Kelly said she messaged her husband and stepdaughter to let them know that she was kneeling and hiding. She said they were instructed to take off their pins or anything else that made them identifiable as elected officials.
       Kelly said she is disgusted by the response from the outgoing President. “This was absolutely horrible, he put people’s lives on the line. And, as usual did not care,” she said. “The sooner we get rid of him, the better.”
      The United State House of Representatives voted 232 to 197 to impeach Donald Trump on the charge of incitement of insurrection on Wednesday, Jan. 13, a week after the insurrection.
     Omar Wasow is an assistant professor in Princeton University’s Department of Politics. Wasow’s research focuses on race, politics and statistical methods. Wasow is the author of Agenda Seeding: How 1960s Black Protests Moved Elites, Public Opinion and Voting, published in the American Political Science Review in May 2020.
     Wasow said in order to understand what happened on Jan. 6, one would have to understand that this country has two competing coalitions. One has roots in the white supremacy of the past and which is still committed to maintaining a traditional social order. That traditional social order means whites are at a higher status than non-whites, men have a higher status than women and Christians have a higher status than non-Christians.
     “That traditional social order is still very much rooted in our history of slavery and Jim Crow but it’s now more explicitly also things like, Christian over Muslim, the War on Christmas, is an example where people are more anxious about changes in the traditional social order,” he said.
     Wasow said the other political coalition tends to be more egalitarian and focused on trying to change the social order to make men and women, non-Christians and Christians, whites and non-whites, more equal.
    Wasow said birtherism and “Stop the Steal” are examples of the traditional social order and attempt to delegitimize the multi-ethnic coalition. “Coming to Wednesday, it’s useful to think about everything from birtherism to “Stop the Steal” to people engaging in insurrection, as part of a continuum of efforts to hold on to power, to protect that traditional social order and all of the hierarchies that people are invested in, in that traditional social order.”
     Wasow said when it comes to the Capitol insurrection, in relation to a March on Washington or marches during the civil rights movement, there is good social science evidence that suggests when protests are against police violence, the police tend to engage in more oppression.
    He continued: “Shining a spotlight on police violence, ironically, tends to produce more violent police reaction to protestors,” he said. “The second issue is clearly race, four hundred years of racist mythology seeing Black people as criminals. When a movement on behalf of Black lives mobilizes, when there are significant numbers of Black people in a protest, that triggers police, national guard, the state, to respond much more forcefully.”
     Wasow added there is a long racist history of criminalizing Black people that is pervasive in American culture and it spills into the policing. Wasow, whose parents had been activists, said he has been doing research to understand what happened between 1965 and today, with civil rights victories of that time to the tough on crime politics of this current time.
    “We have an idea about American, a notion of American exceptionalism … so things like political violence are often things that are thought of as things that happen in other countries. In my grad school training, it became quite clear to me that was really misguided and political violence is deeply embedded in American culture,” he said. “People want to situate something like this violence as un-American and that is completely wrong, this is quintessentially American.”