January 22, 2021
Fourteen days after insurrectionists stormed the Capitol Building the FBI has charged three Oath Keepers with alleged conspiracy charges. The FBI complaint tells how they planned the attack weeks in advance, coordinated their movements by radio, and entered the Capitol wearing helmets, body armor and military style insignia. When I checked online, I found that “Oath Keepers is an American far-right anti-government militia organization composed of current and former military, police, and first responders who pledge to fulfill the oath that all military and police take in order to ‘defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic’.” A total of seven persons have now been charged with conspiracy by the FBI and the Department of Justice.
Since aerial photos are not permitted in Washington, D.C. for reasons of security, reliable numbers for the crowd size have not been ascertained. It is estimated at between 2,000 to 80,000 (That seems to be a big difference). It is also not clear how many breached the Capitol doors, although there appears to be several hundred shown by the selfies and phone movies posted online by participants. So far there have been over 100 arrests and over 300 cases opened against the rioters. The arrests include a diverse group of people, ranging from supporters of the then president, to right-wing and anti-government groups, to people who just decided to show up. There might have been a better day to visit.
I read in an article from USA Today that among those charged with alleged crimes are former and current police officers, world class athletes, military veterans, currently elected officials, and grandparents. This included residents of 32 states and the District of Columbia, with Texas, New York and Florida leading the way. Their ages ranged from 20-70 and included 85 men and 11 women. Attorney Aitan Goelman (Oklahoma City bombing prosecutor) stated they came together as a “toxic brew of conspiracy theorists.” There were a few dozen more arrested for curfew violations on January 6th. The focus of the FBI is on those alleged to have entered the Capitol or for crimes related to violence or weapons.
Thoughts: Even while I was reluctant again write on the aftermath of January 6th, the importance of the event make it warranted. Over the past weeks the news media has vacillated between the wide range of stories vying for our attention: the riot, the inauguration, and a renewed focus on the virus. Some have suggested we just need to move on. If we could only forgive and forget we could get back to normal. That precludes the fact this is the new normal and unless we address the long-term dissatisfaction felt by most Americans we will never come to unity. We need to call out the racism that sparked the BLM riots. We need to address the discontent that sparked the Capitol riot. Until we face who we are and where we have been, we will not be able to move forward. We will instead just sweep it together with the growing lump of dirt under the carpet. Do the work. Change is coming and it starts with you.