The Capitol Riot

photo: Roberto Schmidt Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

After the Presidential election last November, we ran a piece, “The War Is Not Over.” On January 6, a racist mob, urged on by Trump & Co., attacked the US Capitol building and assaulted media workers covering the riot. Journalists outside the Capitol were threatened and surrounded, equipment destroyed and stolen. “Murder the media” was scrawled on a door inside the Capitol and a noose was made from media cables and hung from a tree. A media crew was violently attacked while covering the unfolding story and more incidents were reported in Canada, where a CBC News photojournalist was assaulted at pro-Trump protest in Vancouver.

While shocking to watch, it comes as no surprise as this has been the theme of the Trump Gang from Day 1, labeling the press “the enemy of the people.” Maybe the most telling aspect of this whole incident was the lack of a police presence of any kind, even though everyone knew this event was happening and had been widely discussed and advertised on social media. Some rioters even discussed what weapons they planned on bringing. Many of these fascist and QAnon-type groups are both monitored and infiltrated, so there were few if any secrets about what was going to happen. Yet there was no police presence for hours.

This is in stark contrast to the police attacks, curfews and thousands of arrests that took place during the anti-racist uprising last summer against police violence. There is no question what the results would have been if it had been a Black Lives Matter protest that approached the steps of the Capitol.

In this writer’s opinion, the racist riot at the Capitol is a further sign of a system in crisis. The system is wounded and the wound just got deeper. The year-long pandemic is surging across the country with more than 3 million infections and over 300,000 deaths. Hospitals in many areas are filled to capacity and in Los Angeles, EMS drivers have been told not to bring some patients to the hospital. Millions have lost their jobs and millions more face evictions, foreclosures and homelessness. By every measurement, Black and Latinx workers and youth have paid the highest price; worse, they continue to face racist police brutality and racial profiling.

At the same time, billionaires like Bezos and Zuckerberg have increased their wealth. In New York State, 118 billionaires have increased their wealth by about $80 billion since the pandemic arrived last March.

Trump may be leaving office, but the systemic crisis is not going away. Possibly, Trump, Cruz and others will pay a high price for the attack on Congress, or they may pay no price at all. Whichever way the struggle turns, we know which side we are on. We will continue to fight for a free press, for the ability of freelancers to work safely and securely, and to build a fighting union based on anti-racism and international solidarity.

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