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Mon Jan 11, 2021, 05:18 PM

It Was Supposed to Be So Much Worse [View all]

And the threat to the U.S. government hasn’t passed.

On the West Lawn of the Capitol Wednesday, a man in a pom-pom beanie clamored for blood. “Execute the traitors!” he shouted into a megaphone. “I wanna see executions!”

The man got the deaths he wanted, if not the executions. Four rioters died as a result of Wednesday’s insurrection at the Capitol. The mob beat a police officer with a fire extinguisher, law-enforcement sources told The New York Times; the officer later died. Some of them had bigger plans too: Before the protest, pro-Trump radicals had posted online about their intentions to kill Vice President Mike Pence. They brought zip ties and wore Kevlar vests. Rioters erected a wooden gallows next to the Capitol Reflecting Pool, and police discovered two pipe bombs on Capitol Hill.

The violence could have been even worse. Some of the rioters clearly wanted it to be. And Wednesday’s attack may have had another, more insidious effect: to embolden extremists. Already, Trump-supporting zealots online are promising to return to Washington around Inauguration Day.

“President Trump has ignited fire within people,” a protester named Maria told me on Wednesday afternoon, before either of us knew that rioters had broken into the Capitol. “Some of these guys … they’re ready to go to war or die for their country today. This is not going away anytime soon.”

As the rioters breached the Capitol walls, Representative Susan Wild of Pennsylvania was in the House gallery, watching her colleagues debating on the floor below. She watched as the Capitol Police evacuated Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Suddenly, officers announced that rioters had entered the Capitol Rotunda, and ordered Wild and her colleagues to put on the gas masks below their chairs. Wild dropped to the floor. She and several other members of Congress crawled on their hands and knees from one side of the gallery to an open exit on the other. She FaceTimed her two adult children to reassure them. After she hung up, the panic set in—the sensation of being trapped, cornered like a caged animal. This, Wild told me, was probably the moment captured in the now widely circulated photo of her being comforted by Representative Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army Ranger. “I had an image of an overwhelming number of armed people invading the Capitol coming in to shoot us up,” she said. “I remember thinking, Wow, this is what it’s come to.”

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2021/01/trump-rioters-wanted-more-violence-worse/617614/

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demmiblue Jan 2021 OP
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