Social Media Response to the Capitol Riots

(Artwork/Elaine Wu23)

(Artwork/Elaine Wu’23)

Jazelle Covington, Online Staff Writer

On January 6, far-right Trump supporters joined together and rioted at the United States Capitol in order to overturn the results of the November 2020 election and avenge his loss to Joe Biden, now the 46th President of America. Hundreds of the rioters broke into the building, destroying historical artifacts and forcing members of Congress to evacuate to a safe room to shelter in place. The chaos resulted in the deaths of one police officer and four rioters. This unfortunate event angered thousands of people as soon as it reached the media and news. Americans, and even people from other countries, saw this as an act of recklessness and violence. This incident spread rapidly and caused outrage all across social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Celebrities and influencers posted their opinions on the Capitol Hill riot, referencing it as “narcissistic” and “heartbreaking.” Reflections of racism ensued, seeing on the news that a Confederate flag was raised inside the doors of the building for the first time ever. Many saw this as a historical moment of disrespect towards our country. Pictures of rioters wearing overtly racist clothing quickly spread to social media, stealing items from the building, and even breaking them. Upper School History and English teacher Mr. Davis says, “I think we have been let down by our traditional “sense-making” organs (i.e. news outlets, and newspapers) who increasingly feed their audiences what they want to hear and effectively promote political tribalism.” One trending image shows a man smiling as he took a selfie with an officer that was supposedly protecting the Capitol property. This photograph spread quickly, showing the lack of security and carelessness that was coming from the officers at the Capitol. This shocked and enraged so many people.

The stark differences between the BLM protests at the Capitol building and the riot that took place on January 6, were brought up all over the media. People who took part in the BLM protests experienced acts of violence from the police, being beaten, pepper-sprayed, and many even shot. This did not take place in the Capitol Hill riot, keeping in mind what the rioters were fighting for. Yet, in the Black Lives Matter protests, people were fighting for their lives, specifically the thousands of people who have faced police brutality, and many who have lost their lives to it. They were simply pursuing respect. On the contrary, the people who were rioting at the Capitol Building were fighting for “their president” Donald Trump, hoping to avenge his “unfair” loss to Biden. Junior Andre Williams says, “I personally thought they represented just how faulty a democracy can be… a democracy is only democratic when people of privilege are being upheld.” People who took part in the BLM protest specifically made clear that it was to be peaceful. Yet, people were hurt and unrightfully attacked by the officers in front of the Capitol Hill building. On the other hand, the rioters who took part in the Capitol Hill attack did not intend on it being peaceful, but the officers seemed to show a certain level of respect towards them, considering they got into the building unharmed. This riot also caused the media platforms to acknowledge the harsh state of America. One by one, the companies banned prior president Donald Trump from all of their social media platforms. From Twitter, to Instagram, to Facebook, his access was taken away.