According to a recent poll by Reuters, 57% of Americans want Republican President Donald Trump to be removed from office immediately, after he encouraged the deadly and troubling riot at the Capitol building on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021.
The violence at the Capitol threatened the democratic peaceful transition of power that has existed in the United States for almost 250 years, and is now a significant cause of concern for many Americans across the country, regardless of political affiliation. The educators and staff of Gateway High School believe that the magnitude of Wednesday’s events calls for conversation, as it is more important than ever to be informed and stand united as a school community and as a country.
President Trump used his Twitter platform to urge his followers to protest at the Capitol building on Wednesday, when Congress was due to confirm the result of the recent presidential election. President Trump, who lost the popular vote (the total number or percentage of votes cast by voters in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.) and the electoral vote (the total number of votes cast by each state as represented in the Electoral College system), encouraged his supporters to attend the protest and dispute the election results.
As a result, thousands of supporters violently stormed the Capitol, forcing members of Congress to hide under their desks and quickly evacuate in fear. The Washington Post reports that rioters ransacked the offices of government officials, smashed windows, and assaulted police inside our nation’s most iconic symbol of democracy.
The nature of a democracy does not support violence as a way to elect leaders in the government. By definition, a democracy is a government by the people that operates by the rule of majority. The supreme power lies with the people, and the people exercise this power when they vote.
At the same time, the right to protest is protected by the U.S. Constitution, as long as it is peaceful. In fact, acts of civil disobedience and non-violent resistance have been integral to the evolution of the United States. Through peaceful demonstrations and creative, non-violent activism, movements like the Women’s Suffrage Parade, The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, Stonewall Riots, Occupation of Alcatraz, and The March for Our Lives, Americans have been able to have their voices heard and advocate for change.
Additionally, according to a study by BBC, non-violent protests are twice as likely to succeed as armed conflicts are. For example, in 1986, millions of Filipinos in the People Power movement took to the streets of Manila to peacefully protest and pray. The Marcos regime that they were protesting against folded on the fourth day. A more recent example is from 2019, when the presidents of both Sudan and Algeria announced they would step aside after decades in office, as a result of the peaceful campaigns of resistance.
Today, we live in a society where false or incomplete information can spread quickly, so it is important to consult public, local, and reliable sources to understand what is happening, and to use critical thinking skills to form your own opinion. For many, hearing the news of Wednesday’s violent events at the Capitol can be compared to hearing the news of the first coronavirus cases in the United States, as they both presented a very real fear of the unknown and threat to personal security.
It is not always apparent that every single day, we are writing a new chapter in history. There can be moments where days go by, and all seems normal, and then the world can change in the span of a few hours. It’s difficult to understand what is happening when the events are unfolding, and the lack of knowledge or certainty about the future can manifest itself in unpleasant feelings.
As a country, many Americans are experiencing feelings of fear, anxiety, uncertainty, and discomfort, as the violence was a direct attack on fundamental American beliefs. Our hearts and thoughts go out to each and every one of you. Gateway is committed to supporting students during these unusual times. Students at Gateway High School are always encouraged to speak to our counselors about how they feel. Our counselors can help students work through their emotions and make good decisions in any circumstance. For more information, learn about our counseling staff here.