Yesterday, a pro-Trump, white supremacist mob stormed our nation’s Capitol as legislators met to certify the results of the presidential election. This mob, many of whom were armed, were able to bypass Capitol Police to violently disrupt democracy at work in the People’s House. They spent hours smashing windows, ransacking offices, breaching the House and Senate chambers, and waving symbols of hate.
This was a dark and frightening day for our country, and instead of offering real leadership, Trump once again fanned the flames of division. Trump incited violence, resisted to call in the national guard, and tweeted a video where he told the mob: “We love you, you’re very special.”
I am angry and appalled at this violent assault on our democracy by those claiming the mantle of protecting our democracy and the failure of leadership we saw from the White House and several members of Congress. But I am not surprised. We’ve never grappled with our original sin of white supremacy, and we still face the consequences today.
As I look back on the events of yesterday, I can’t help but notice the way law enforcement responded to this mob. When we marched peacefully in the streets to protest the murders of Black people at the hands of law enforcement, we were met with tear gas, rubber bullets, flash grenades, and hundreds of arrests.
When armed protestors lay siege to our nation’s Capitol, they were met by officers who moved aside barriers and took selfies with them. What we saw was Capitol Police, who have sworn an oath to protect these United States, aiding and abetting those who would violently attack our democracy.
Our democracy is supposed to protect and serve every last one of us, but it has failed. It failed over the summer, when a group of multiracial Americans came together across the country to demand recognition that Black Lives Matter, and we saw a failure of protection from the state yesterday.
What we have to do now is what the late Representative John Lewis always told us to do: act. Democracy is an act and truth-telling is a critical part of that democracy. So I will continue to speak that truth because the only way we will protect our democracy is if we address the original sins of this country and recognize we are still sinning.
Maya Wiley is among 1000 of us who matriculated at Dartmouth in 1982 and graduated in 1986 she is my classmate.
to my recollection she was in my Spanish class freshman fall. I don’t remember any other particular interaction with her those four years or in the ensuing 25. But she left an impression such that when I saw her on CNN and then saw her name in the New York Times I supported her for mayor. And then to my delight a few weeks ago she called me to thank me for a contribution and I gave her some other ideas on people who I know who might support her quest, her efforts to help.
She is a Black woman from DC helping her community and wishing the best for our country. She leans in. She can bring it. And she writes well.