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Capitol riots: Panel of Americans ‘shocked’ and ‘disgusted’

The storming of the US Capitol building in Washington DC stunned viewers around the world.

But how did Americans feel seeing the seat of their government being ransacked?

Simon grew up in Uganda during its civil war and became a US citizen last year. A master’s student and stay-at-home father, he warns that, while things may settle down, “democracy is not guaranteed”.

I’m disgusted but not surprised. I anticipated this would happen and it was a matter of when, not if.

I didn’t anticipate that it would happen in the capital. This is the president whose people – since the racial justice movement in the summer – said they were for “law and order”. So the “law and order” people broke into the Capitol and changed the American flag with the Trump flag. History shows that has not happened in over 200 years, so it tells you how dangerous this man is.

In Uganda, in November, when the opposition was arrested, people took to the streets and got shot. Here, in the summer, the Capitol building was protected and they were breaking up peaceful protests.

It’s clear that [Trump supporters] have been organising, we’ve seen this was going to happen, yet we subconsciously did not think that white people are a threat. That is the construct of this country and how law enforcement viewed it.

Taylor is a staunch Trump supporter and recently travelled to Washington DC for a post-election pro-Trump rally. A photographer by trade, she was upset by the rioting but believes unsubstantiated claims that left-wing radicals were behind the violence.

It was just heart-breaking to watch what was going on and the behaviour of protesters is just not like the Trump people I’ve been around. If it did come from any conservatives, then I condemn it. There’s no excuse for violence.

It doesn’t change my support for Trump. The people that love Trump, that’s not going to change no matter if he gets a second term or not. It just means we’re going to hold out for 2024 and hope either he runs again or his kids do.

Our country is going to go downhill over the next four years if Biden does take office. I’m actually moving today out of the city into the suburbs of a Republican county because I am afraid of how Democratic counties will end up under a Biden presidency.

We’re going to catapult towards socialism and communism. I’m worried for the country’s future, but regardless of who takes office, we have a lot of healing to do. I hope we can all find our common humanity and embrace each other when this is all over, which is hopefully soon.

James is a lifelong Republican who worked on Capitol Hill for the party for nearly two decades, but cast his first ever vote for a Democrat in the 2020 election. He was stunned by 6 January’s events and expects it to become a bad footnote in the country’s history.

I find it absolutely shocking. I didn’t think it would come to this.

I had actually thought about going down to the protests with a sign that said “Republicans Against Trump”. My brother said, if I had done that, there would have been five deaths, not four, and he may have been right. I’m astounded by the stupidity of these people who show up without masks and who are being filmed. Quite a few of them are going to prison. It’s a serious situation when you break past a police barricade and go into a building that’s supposed to be secure.

I have a lot of friends who say things couldn’t get worse, but I have to remind them, as a student of history, that it has been worse. The Civil War was much worse. There was a lot of violence in the South during the Reconstruction period. This is something the country will get over. I was heartened by President-elect Biden’s speech yesterday. Finally we’ve got someone who’s sounding presidential. We haven’t had it for the last four years.

A’Kayla is a college student who supports the Black Lives Matter movement. She says law enforcement “coddled” the rioters at the Capitol and thus made an argument for police reform because they were far more aggressive at protests she attended.

It’s so irritating I can’t put into words how frustrating it is. They stormed the Capitol and the police were gentle and lackadaisical with them. I expected the police to use force, but they were so kind and gentle. During the summer, when the Black Lives Matter protests were going on, so many people were injured, locked up and lost their lives.

From my own experience, marching peacefully on the front lines in Charleston, we had tear gas thrown at us and had to pour milk in our eyes. It was excruciating. And for what? We’re marching for a cause, because we had the murder of somebody by the police. What are they upset about? They’re upset because we are living in a democracy and they didn’t get their way.

During one of the debates, when Trump said “stand back and stand by”, is this what he was talking about? This is the calm before the storm. I think it’s going to get way more ugly, but Kamala [Harris] and Joe [Biden] are a symbol of change and hope.

Whether [Trump supporters] like it or not, America is moving towards a more progressive country and there’s going to be a lot of changes.

By Sam Cabral

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