Students voice opinions on capital riot

Broken glass, zip ties and gas masks are not the typical attractions seen at the United States Capitol, but on Jan. 6, the sight was unavoidable. As thousands of pro-Trump supporters broke down barriers and breached the capitol floor, Cedar Falls students sat in their fifth hour classes. 

Senior Ethan Hughes kept up with periodical news updates, originally to check on the status of the hotly contested Georgia senate race, which had the potential to flip the House. Instead, he was greeted with images of violence and destruction in the nation’s capital. “Honestly I started off flabbergasted as I read that Mike Pence had been evacuated as the barriers had been breached on the New York Times live coverage at 1:30. I had been paying close attention to the Georgia runoffs waiting for them to call the Purdue Ossoff race and decided to check on the electoral college vote,” Hughes said. “I was completely floored, and it didn’t really sink in for a while. It seemed almost silly.”

Hughes wasn’t alone in his disbelief, and was one of many students talking about the incident during class. “I think I might have been in shock, so I talked to my neighbors in class and my teachers about hoping to get some sense of reality, maybe an assurance that it was OK, but the teachers all seemed startled by the news, and the students seemed to just be making jokes. Those were some of the least productive class periods I have ever had because I was just so stressed and worried about what was going on. So after school I rushed home, and my entire family was watching the TV as coverage of the riots played. I remember watching with bated breath everything they said and reported. I ended up staying up till 2:40 that night watching them count the electoral votes before I felt I could settle down and go to sleep. Afterwards, right now I am truly terrified that the worst is yet to come, that they will return and bring all their firearms and people will be killed. I strongly believe there will be assassination attempts on the 20th and the 17th could also be a bloodbath,” Hughes said. 

In a survey of students, 64.6 percent said that Donald Trump should be removed from office in light of these events. Hughes is not alone in his call to impeach the president, but Iowa is a largely Republican state, and those opinions are still reflected within the student body.
Senior Regan Hays said that she believes the riots were caused by Antifa and the media, and that Trump should not be impeached. “He had absolutely nothing to do with the violence. He encouraged people to march peacefully. He asked people to stand down and to not be violent, and the media shut him down. It makes no sense why people want to remove him from office. Besides he is leaving office in like a week, so there’s no point in impeaching him. If they were going to impeach him for this, which he had nothing to do with, then that would be so stupid and wrong. He told the people to be peaceful and to not get violent. He is not responsible for the actions of others.”

Both viewpoints are widely supported by different groups in the school, but senior Jacob Smothers said he believes that the issue goes far beyond partisan politics due to the losses that occurred as a result of the riots. “I believe he should be impeached because he incited this violence, and in my mind is indirectly responsible for the deaths and losses that occurred. There were people in the crowd who left because they didn’t support the violence, but the most misguided and ignorant, let it get out of hand. The former president sparked this fire and needs to be held accountable,” Smothers said. “The foundation of America was that one person wouldn’t have absolute power, they would be checked by other powers. If nothing is done then we have abandoned that belief.”

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