I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a little distracted this last week. Haven’t gotten a ton of writing done. So, instead of talking about writing, let’s go ahead and talk about the riot at the capitol. I’m not even going to try to organize my thoughts because of the sheer chaos of the whole thing. If you’re interested, the NY Times has a pretty good timeline of the action. Includes a video of a small group of protestors toppling a barricade manned by three cops. Kind of a microcosm of how weak the response was.
So, first off, I knew as soon as I saw the first pictures coming out that there was no way the rioters should have been able to get into the building. I’ve been to protests and was just a few blocks away from ground zero during the George Floyd protests. This was not that big a protest. The best estimates I’ve seen put it at between 10 and 20,000 (here a data journalist and journalism professor explains estimating crowd sizes and the difficulty of doing it in DC). Don’t get me wrong, that’s a lot of people; but it’s not nearly enough to overwhelm a coordinated police response. It has been interesting to watch the layers of misassumptions unfold over the last week as the police—contrary to all the intelligence gathered beforehand; intelligence easily found as these jackholes posted most of their plans on social media—expected mostly “First Amendment activities” and not the violence that ensued.
One can easily assume that if the crowd was black, brown, and left-leaning, the response would have been wildly different.
Ok, let’s get to the dark stuff. Though the main crowd of people had no real plan (they wandered the capitol for four hours and then were kicked out), there were pockets of people with some pretty damn evil plans. They carried zip ties—not normal ones, but ones specifically designed to restrain people—and tasers. They built a gallows. Many of this group are what are called “Minecrafters” on the right wing message boards, due to their mistaken belief that if they end any of their violent plans with the words “in Minecraft” they can’t be prosecuted for conspiracy.
I cannot stress enough how incredibly fucking stupid the vast majority of the white power movement is.
But just because they’re stupid, it doesn’t mean they’re not dangerous. Might even make them more so. Makes them easily led by the few smart ones there are. Still, even those made some key misassumptions of their own that led to the day being far less tragic than it could have been, and in fact, was intended to be.
First of all, they vastly overestimated the number of people they’d get to charge the capitol, even with the actual fucking president of the United States exhorting them to attack. They thought there would be 100,000 or so “patriots” at the event. Like I said, more realistic estimates put it between ten and twenty thousand. And not all of those breached the building.
Secondly, they were expecting the police and military to go over to their side in a Russian Revolution-type moment. An unsurprising assumption, given how many cops and servicemen and women we now know were in the crowd that day. And while some police are seen on video taking selfies or letting rioters past, many performed heroically despite the intentional lack of support from agencies controlled by Trump sycophants and the listless, “Blinded by the White” response to actionable intelligence by their own superiors.
I am curious what kind of mental gymnastics the white power cops who participated are going through to justify their actions that resulted in one of their fellow officers being beaten to death with a fire extinguisher. I have faith in them; I’m sure they’ll decide it was the officer’s own fault he died. Taking responsibility for your own actions is not a fundamental tenant of white supremacy.
The most horrifying thing to come out of this is the strong possibility that members of congress gave substantial helps to these groups. And not the cannon fodder, but the Minecrafters whose plan was to kidnap and assassinate other members of congress. And these same congresspeople stood up and were allowed to keep spouting lies in congress after conspiring to murder their colleagues. Other congresspeople refused to wear masks when sheltering from the attacks and likely infected their colleagues, to my mind, taking an even more active role attempting to murder their co-workers.
Let’s talk felony murder. As the FBI has said they are looking at felony charges for those who entered the capitol. As there were deaths, that opens up everybody charged with a felony to be additionally charged with felony murder, the equivalent of murder one. And, having personal experience with how the feds do their business, if they charge you, you’re getting convicted. Despite the whiteness of the crowd, if these charges get filed, a lot of people are going to do a lot of time.
Anyway, that’s not nearly all my thoughts on this subject, but it’s enough for now. In other news, I’ve got a story that has moved past the slush pile and on to the next round of editors. Fingers crossed on that one. Had a rousing success with my free promotion for DUSTER, though I couldn’t quite get past #2 on the Military Fantasy best selling list. Also got about fifteen hundred words into the third book in that series written this week despite everything.