How the PDS Community Reacted to The Events at the Capitol


Original Artwork by Kacey Fisher’22 in response to the events at the Capitol

Akash Bhowmick, Online Staff Writer

On Wednesday, January 6, our democracy was jeopardized. Rioters stormed the Capitol building, attempting to stall the certification of our presidential election. Although they belong to a largely diverse community, the members of our student body have shown an incredible display of unity responding to the disastrous events that took place, their implications, and how to bounce back from this disaster.

Many students perceive President Trump to be the catalyst of the events. One PDS student, who chose to remain anonymous, remarked that the riots were “A disgusting display of misinformation and the flames of chaos produced by the man who’s supposed to protect us. This was a stain on our democracy, frankly.” President Trump’s statement “We will never concede” at one of his Washington D.C. rallies earlier in the day, is believed by many to have sparked the riots in the Capitol. This quote expresses a common concern that while Trump’s duty is toward the people, he uses those very people for his own gain, undermining our democracy along the way. 

Further expressing Trump’s failure to his people, junior Andre Williams exclaimed, “You lost the house, the senate, and the popular vote. If you continue to support [Trump] after this moment, you’re further down bad and brainwashed than anybody sane could EVER comprehend.” Here, Williams shares the perspective mentioned earlier that Trump has been deceiving his supporters, manipulating them to the point of delusion, citing Republicans’ recent losses in the House, Senate, and the presidency. This viewpoint is not just confined to PDS; a section from the 25th Amendment, which outlines the Vice President taking over if the President is deemed unable to lead, is trending on Twitter as many are calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office. 

In addition to outrage towards Trump, many have pointed out the stark contrast between the police’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the events in the Capitol. This point is being echoed throughout not only PDS, but across the country. This difference was highlighted by the police’s almost laid back approach in stopping the insurgency in Washington, while using violence and fear to shut down BLM demonstrations. Junior Samay Nandwana stated that he “believe[s] that the police could have done a more effective job limiting the violence in the Capitol. The difference in the response of law enforcement was apparent.” The violence mentioned by Nandwana references both the methods used by the rioters to forcefully take over our nation’s Capitol building, as well as those injured in the chaos, including one woman being fatally shot inside. 

Numerous students also agree with the statement Nandwana made about the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the police in the situation, mentioning that in response to BLM, cops were unafraid of using tear gas and rubber bullets, while in this situation they acted relatively passively. Sophomore Ziya Brittingham expressed her frustration over the police’s inaction in this situation, explaining, “Disappointed, angry, and tired can only begin to describe my emotions right now. The ones who were throwing things at police officers were also the ones who condemned BLM supporters for protesting the simple right to survive. These men and women brought confederate flags and nooses to the Capitol yesterday and the police treated them with respect and dignity. Last night it quickly became apparent that this riot was (for some individuals), an anti-BIPOC riot, and that is what hurts the most.” Brittingham echoes the common observation that these rioters received preferential treatment, in addition to the hypocrisy they exhibited when they criticized the BLM movement. She also mentions how these factors portray the riot as an anti-BIPOC riot. Further scrutiny was placed on President Trump when it was discovered that Vice President Pence was the one who finally called in the National Guard to help clear out the Capitol, advancing the calls to invoke the 25th Amendment. Along with the outrage towards President Trump, the difference in reaction from the police has increased the tension between law enforcement and the people. 

Political beliefs notwithstanding, it is apparent that the event was a disaster. The significance of these riots can not be overstated, with Sophomore Katrina Zeng explaining, “The key to democracy is the peaceful transfer of power, and today has shown that almost half this country does not care about this key. The government needs to hold these people accountable. These Trump supporters need to take responsibility for their actions. What is the point of an election if the losing party does not conform to it?” Zeng emphasized how these riots undermined one of the most important parts of our democracy, the peaceful transition of power. By preventing the peaceful transition of power, these riots are creating a dangerous precedent—a precedent of ignoring democracy, one of the pillars of our nation. Zeng mentioned the fact that the people partaking in these riots must be held accountable for their actions. Countless members of the PDS community agree this is the only way to send a message that ignoring our democracy will not go unpunished. Otherwise, others will follow in these rioters’ footsteps and do the same in future elections, making elections obsolete in the process. 

After examining the importance of Wednesday’s events, how do we move forward from this attack? How do we preserve our democracy and prevent events like these from ever happening again? According to Sophomore Peter Ryan, “In order to move forward, it is imperative that we condemn the events of today and move on as a country, stronger and better. In order to preserve our democracy, we must end the polarization which has plagued our country over these past few months because, ‘united we stand, divided we fall.’” Ryan makes clear the importance of unity in our recovery from these disheartening events. In addition, he echoes the concern that many have of the increasing political polarization in our country, citing an age-old proverb. He argues that if we effectively denounce these rioters and move on together, we can rebuild. While Wednesday’s events were deplorable and distressing, it is up to us to look past the chaos and violence and come together to bounce back from this disaster. 

This point of view was also shown by the PDS administration Thursday morning with a school-wide address from Mr. Stellato, after which students broke off into advisories and affinity groups to discuss the events. Junior Kacey Fisher also created a piece of artwork (see above) to demonstrate our solidarity in moving forward from these riots together, encouraging students from all grades to set the piece as their Zoom background in a display of unity. We must also understand that while those who spurred and participated in these riots were despicable, they don’t represent all conservatives, and their actions aren’t a justification to blame moderate and often called “principled” conservatives. Therefore, we must seek not to ostracize these members of our community, but include them in our bouncing back from these events, further emphasizing the need for unity. It is only through understanding, communicating, reflecting, and taking action that will enable us to build our nation back from this tragedy, “stronger and better.”