Students, teachers sort through reactions to Capitol building raid

Ben Nielsen


Creative Commons

Protesters march toward the Capitol before a group stormed the building Wednesday afternoon.

Sophia Bailly, Editor in chief

Along with millions of other Americans, junior Charles Mitchell watched televised reports depicting supporters of President Donald Trump raiding the U.S. Capitol building to protest the confirmation of Joe Biden as the incoming president on Wednesday afternoon.

“I was at home thinking, there’s no way this could be true,” he said. “And then there it is.”

Following the Nov. 3 election, Trump cited claims of voter fraud. The final count predicted Joe Biden as the president-elect, with 306 electoral votes to President Trump’s 232, according to National Public Radio.

“I don’t think there was voter fraud,” Mitchell said. “And if there was, there wasn’t enough to change the election.”

Despite Trump’s claims, no evidence to support widespread voter fraud surfaced, according to the Associated Press.

“[His claims were] absolutely absurd,” Mitchell said. “I was generally more conservative during the time leading up to the death of George Floyd and the protest that happened, in the summer, but once school started I slowly became more left-leaning and this definitely shows how the right has become extremely radical.”

The raid on the Capitol building began as a pro-Trump protest that followed the president’s “Save America” rally in Washington D.C. When protestors scaled the Capitol walls and marched up the steps, lawmakers were meeting to confirm the electoral votes, with the intent to formalize Joe Biden as the next president. Freshman Jason Dela Cruz was in the car driving to Georgia when instagram posts about [about the raid] started flooding in.

“I think that these ‘protestors’ went too far,” Dela Cruz said. “This puts a bad light on America with the rest of the world seeing what happened. You would think that something like this wouldn’t happen because America it’s labeled as a safe country.”

Members of Congress were told to seek shelter within the Capitol, while the members of the secret service guided Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to an undisclosed location. Mitchell said the raid displayed how extreme the nation’s divisiveness has grown.

“Having a candidate you prefer and supporting them is one thing,” Mitchell said. “But letting it either control your whole life or causing you to do insane things is where you can almost consider it a cult.”

Prior to the raid, a group of Republican lawmakers — including Florida’s Sen. Rick Scott and Rep. Bill Posey of Rockledge — said they would object to the electoral votes, leading both chambers of Congress into discussion before confirming Biden’s victory.

“I think what President Trump is saying about election fraud is childish,” Dela Cruz said. “I don’t think he understands that everything that he is saying will not change anything in the end. He just needs to accept his loss and leave office. He handled the situation very poorly. Once they started raiding the Capitol, he should’ve immediately told them to stop. It’s not right that many other politicians, including president-elect Biden addressed the situation before he did. It’s almost as if he was forced to send a message to his supporters.”

Following the raid, the security of the Capitol was placed under scrutiny.

“I find it very strange that one of the most important buildings in the country had very little security to try to stop the protestors,” Dela Cruz said. “I saw one video where there was one security guard on one of the entrances that was being chased up the steps by a mob of protestors. It’s honestly ridiculous. If they would’ve deployed more security — like the national guard — then none of this would’ve happened.”

Sophomore Cooper Thomson was at home e-learning when the raid began around 2:15 p.m.

“My first reaction was that this type of violence is completely unacceptable, no matter what side is committing it,” Thomson said. “The protester could have protested outside of the Capitol building all they wanted, but a violent incursion into the building is completely unacceptable, and those involved should be punished.”

Eighth-grader Caden T. said he was also e-learning when his news app notified him of the Capitol raid. He said he believes the raid could have been avoided if President Trump did not incite action.

“President Trump could have handled the event much better than he did,” Caden said. “I personally am not happy about the results of the election, but if Biden is the candidate democracy chose, so be it. I do believe there was definitely some fraud, but likely not enough to change the election results significantly.”

Reflecting on the Black Lives Matter protests and riots that took place last summer, Caden said he noticed hypocrisy among those who took part in the raid.

“At first I was in shock because it was a peaceful protest that all of us Republicans were speaking about when [Black Lives Matter] riots broke out,” Caden said. “I thought It was very contradictory of them to go and riot after saying that. Also I thought those radical Trump supporters were only hurting themselves. We believe that blue lives matter yet when they breach the Capitol, it doesn’t seem to matter.”

History teacher Robert Sarver said he was at school watching the “Save America” rally prior to the siege. When the raid began, Sarver said he was speechless.

“[I] couldn’t put into words how I felt,” Sarver said. “[I was] very disheartened and disappointed that people could be so deluded and stupid to do something like they did. After watching for a while, I got mad that it happened to begin with.”

The Capitol building has not experienced a raid of such scale since 1814, when British troops scorched the building.

“[The raid] reinforced the fears of the founding fathers of fearing the mob, as a current and vivid example proving their concerns,” Sarver said. “I anticipated this and was not surprised, but it still stunned me to actually see it occurring.”

Sarver said he approached the subject with his classes by presenting an excerpt from President Ulysses S. Grant’s Des Moines Address, which was originally delivered to a group of Civil War veterans.

“I have two signs in my class, that say ‘Danger, Stupid Kills,’” Sarver said. “[There is] one on the door into the class and one in the middle of the board. I told [my students] that in today’s world, none of them should be ignorant and that it is hard for most people to be ignorant. So what occurred yesterday was stupid. I ended with saying that stupid did kill, with the loss of four people’s lives. I ended saying that I hoped that they remembered Grant’s quote and asked them to not be stupid.”

Editor’s note: Brevard Public Schools policy prohibits the inclusion of middle-schoolers’ last names on district-sponsored websites.