On January 6th, 2021, millions of Americans anxiously watched as a Trump rally turned into a violent riot outside the Capitol building. Armed Trump supporters stormed the building. The insurrection was widely thought to be prompted by disputes over the 2020 election and Trump’s subsequent loss.
In the days following the riots, news sources reported that police officers were terrorized and chased around the Capitol, and protesters erected a gallows on the National Mall amidst cries to hang then-Vice President Mike Pence. Officer Brian Sicknick was reportedly beaten mercilessly with a fire extinguisher as rioters called to kill him with his own gun. He died from his injuries soon after.
Some protesters came armed with assault gear, weapons, and flex ties that could be used to handcuff hostages. Others had schematics and maps of the Capitol.
The Echo interviewed both Mount Greylock students and teachers to learn more about the public’s reaction to these events.
Patrick Blackman, a Greylock History Teacher, said that the Capitol is something that “guarantees our freedom, [and represents] a tradition of peaceful transition of power, the people’s house. These to me are, and I don’t want to overuse words I’ve been hearing, sacred things, and just to see that violated in the way that it was…was shocking and angering.”
However, Blackman does not see these recent events as the end of democracy, as many have claimed. “As coup attempts go, it was amateur hour,” he said. “As angering as it was, and as shocking as it was… [it wa]sn’t exactly the Bolshevik Revolution… And I don’t mean to downplay the seriousness of it, but what were they thinking? Some of it is so ludicrous.”
Others believe that the protesters should be labelled as terrorists, including Krish Sharma, a sophomore at Mount Greylock: “I consider it a terrorist attack. I can’t believe that there are all these people who think Trump still won the election… and the fact that they acted on it so aggressively and were so hostile…”
Sharma continued, “If Antifa can be labeled a terrorist organization, then I don’t know what you’d call these guys; they’re ten times worse. It wasn’t a fight about democracy, it was shameful [and] it was embarrassing to all Americans.”
Cailean Fippinger, another Mount Greylock sophomore, argued that Americans could have seen this coming.
“This is not something unexpected,” he said. “It shook up my parents a lot more than it shook up me, because this is just something we’ve been living in for the past couple of years now. I think it is a dangerous precedent that this is not more shocking to everyone.”
Blackman said, “I don’t have any problem with people peacefully protesting, whether I agree or disagree with their point of view,” he said. “But when it turned into what it turned into, to me it just crossed the line.”