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Let's call the Capitol riot what it really was — an attempted massacre
Commentary

Let's call the Capitol riot what it really was — an attempted massacre

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Capitol Breach Getting Caught

Donald Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6. In dozens of cases on social media, Trump supporters downright flaunted their activity on the day of the deadly insurrection. 

It is clear by the stunning case House impeachment managers presented on Wednesday that the riot on Capitol Hill wasn’t just an uprising against the government. Previously unreleased video tells the true story.

It was an attempted massacre.

Many of us did not realize until now how close our elected officials came to death. We did not fully understand the bravery of the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan police officers who took extraordinary measures to protect them from harm.

We can no longer make excuses for this mob of would-be killers, who broke through windows and tore down doors in an attempt to murder Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and anyone else they came upon.

These were not simply disheartened Americans who felt betrayed by the electoral system. They were not “very special” people as Donald Trump called them. And they certainly were not “great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated.”

They weren’t just there to block the certification of the presidential election. These were terrorists and would-be assassins.

There were no innocent bystanders that day, whether they entered the Capitol or stood outside. Everyone who traveled to Washington to participate in that “Stop the Steal” rally was there to overturn the election and destroy our system of government.

And some were there to slaughter.

In some respects, we always knew they were dangerous, but we didn’t necessarily grasp just how dangerous they were. We had not heard the frantic audio dispatches of police officers calling for backup. We had not seen the chilling video of staff members running to safety or senators being rushed out of the chamber.

The video presented Wednesday gave us a bird’s-eye view of what the insurrection looked like from inside. And it visualized just how bloody the day could have been, if not for the severely understaffed police forces that held the mob at bay.

Pence and his family had to be shepherded to a secure location. Pelosi was removed from the building. Sen. Mitt Romney happened to be walking down the hallway where insurgents were approaching and had to be ushered in the other direction.

Sen. Chuck Schumer was walking up a ramp when, after nearly confronting insurgents, he was forced to quickly turn around and flee. Pelosi’s staff sought refuge in an office behind barricaded doors. They were heard whispering on the phone as the attackers pounded on the door.

Rep. Stacey Plaskett, a House manager who represents the Virgin Islands’ at-large district, summed it up in a way that sensible people cannot ignore.

“Donald Trump put a target on their backs and his mob went into the Capitol to hunt them down.”

So far, only about 200 people have been arrested. That is sadly insufficient. The FBI is still asking for help identifying some of the most vicious criminals. None of us can rest in peace until they are captured and brought to justice.

That will not happen, though, until people take the insurrection seriously. Everyone, from judges to local law enforcement officials, must understand just how dangerous this insurrection was. These folks must be recognized as the thugs they are.

Some judges, however, don’t seem to think they deserve to be treated like real criminals. They have been granted special privileges that never would be afforded to others.

Richard Barnett, who was pictured with his boots propped on Pelosi’s desk during the riot, was allowed to turn himself in days after arriving back home in Arkansas. Though he is charged with several felonies, an Arkansas judge ruled that he could be released and placed on house arrest. Federal prosecutors objected and he was transported to D.C., where he is currently jailed.

Jenny Cudd, a florist and unsuccessful mayoral candidate in Midland, Texas, was given permission to travel to Riviera Maya, Mexico, for a four-day work retreat.

Cudd is charged with violent entry or disorderly conduct, entering a restricted building and other serious crimes, including felony obstructing a congressional proceeding, which could result in up to 20 years in jail.

District of Columbia District Judge Trevor McFadden, a Trump appointee, said he granted the request because Cudd has “no criminal history” and there is no evidence that she is a flight risk or “poses a threat to others.”

She posted a livestream video on Facebook in which she boasted about being inside the Capitol while draped in the Trump flag she wore inside the Rotunda and Statuary Hall.

“We did break down … Nancy Pelosi’s office door,” she said, acknowledging that she “charged the Capitol today with patriots.” She added, “Hell yes, I’m proud of my actions.”

Cudd was released from custody on her own recognizance.

On Tuesday, Troy Williams of Lexington, Kentucky, asked a federal judge to allow him to travel to Peru later this month to get married. Williams is facing four criminal charges related to the Capitol insurrection.

The 25-year-old said he has a flight booked for Feb. 23 and plans to be in South America for two weeks. He admitted to the FBI that he entered the Capitol twice during the riot as part of the “herd mentality.” The judge has not yet ruled on his request.

Do not be fooled. These people are responsible for the injury of 140 police officers and the deaths of three others.

Trump might “love” them and think they are “very special,” but we know who they really are.

They are anti-Americans, who despise this county and all that it stands for.

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Dahleen Glanton is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.

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