A day for the history books: Community members weigh in on Capitol riots


Trump supporters storm the Capitol in Washington D.C. Photo courtesy of Blink O’Fanaye via Flickr.

President Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election results reached a dangerous culmination last Wednesday when his supporters stormed the Capitol, resulting in five deaths, more than 100 arrests, and Trump’s second impeachment.

The U.S. Senate was scheduled to meet on Wednesday, Jan. 6, to officially certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 election. Trump held a “Save America” rally that morning, urging his supporters to “take back” the country. Moments before the Senate was set to meet, Trump’s rally took to the Capitol, and their actions quickly turned violent. It was a shocking day for many, including local community members.

Aidan Levinson, a Pennsylvania delegate for the Joe Biden team, was “horrified” by the incident and the dangers posed to Congressional lawmakers. 

“It was domestic terrorism, violent insurrection, plain and simple,” said Levinson, an EHS graduate who now studies political science at American University in Washington D.C.

 “If you thought you understood the depths of division we face in America,” Levinson said, “and the difference in treatment between white and black members of our community when it comes to law enforcement, think again.”

 Democratic U.S. Congresswoman Susan Wild, representative for the 7th Pennsylvania District which includes East Penn, was inside the Capitol during the riots. A now-famous image shows Wild in a bright red jacket taking cover beneath seats with other members of Congress.

“What happened this week must never be allowed to happen again,” Wild said in a statement to The Stinger. “And now is the time to demonstrate to our nation and to the world that our democracy is still strong and that no one is above the law.”

In her statement, Wild noted that many of the rioters were armed with guns or other weapons, and carried racist and anti-Semitic symbols while gallivanting around the Capitol. After these events, U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, a Republican representative for Pennsylvania’s 15th Congressional District and a vocal supporter of Trump, called for Trump’s resignation. The Stinger reached out for an interview but his office declined to comment.

EHS junior Olivia Pinocci-Wrightsman feels strongly about the current state of the nation. 

Pinocci-Wrightsman believes that the only way to properly set a precedent is to impeach Trump — which has now happened, although it is unknown if the Senate will vote for his conviction. Like many, she remains shocked by last week’s insurrection.

“To go into the Capitol and to vandalize property, to harm police officers, is just inappropriate,” Pinocci-Wrightsman said. “It’s frankly unbelievable on so many levels. It was just heartbreaking, that’s the word that comes to mind.”

EHS senior Megan Hammer experienced an overwhelming sense of shock and confusion when she first heard about the events taking place on Capitol Hill, finding herself “speechless” after seeing images of rioters sitting at Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s desk.

“It doesn’t matter what political beliefs you have,” Hammer said. “When the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader’s offices are being broken into, there is something wrong.”

Looking to the future, EHS senior Jackson Baker hopes this event will influence the political sphere in coming years.

“If we don’t change the way politics are handled, then a bleak future is in store,” Baker said. 

Despite the uncertainty that this election season has brought, some citizens such as Emmaus social studies teacher John Gallagher still hold out hope that these events will be a wake-up call for the American people.

“I believe we can get through this and actually grow stronger as a result,” Gallagher said. “Maybe this is the shock that we need to end this partisan rancor … [and to start] working together to solve our problems.”