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The Student News Site of MAST Academy

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The Man Who Could Not Be King

MAST Students Weigh In On The Storming of Capitol Hill

By: Theo Miller
News Editor

Any views expressed in quotes are those of their respective speakers and do not reflect those of the writer, staff, or The Beacon as a publication.

Pro-Trump protesters rush the Capitol, waving Trump, Confederate, and American flags. (Courtesy of Kyodo News)

A 207-year streak of peace on the United States Congress floor ended Wednesday afternoon. In the midst of a symbolic protest of a secure and valid democratic election by Congressional Republicans, thousands of men, women, and children stormed the gates of Capitol Hill, laying siege to the very chambers where our government has been executed daily for generations.

Bomb squads identified dozens of suspicious packages: a pipe bomb at the Republican National Comittee building, and a cooler full of molotov cocktails, among others. The president’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts have all been suspended. 68 people have been arrested, and five have died as a result of the incident. The vice president has been declared a Judas [this is a loaded word] by the [Trump] supporters who marched the mile and a half from the ‘Save America’ rally on the White House Ellipse to the Capitol building.

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“I’m not surprised,” said Fiona Carrick, a junior in JROTC, referring to President Donald Trump and his follower’s incendiary words that many say incited the riot. “He said he loves them, and he sends mixed messages to these rioters.”

She is not alone. A storming of government buildings by American citizens is unprecedented, and many of MAST’s politically-inclined students felt a mix of abject terror and perverse facination as cable news filled their airtime with wall-to-wall images of chaos and violence.

Many who counted themselves among the president’s supporters have since reversed course in light of the repeated attempts to overturn an unfavorable election by the Repubican cadre.

“I think that the riots are unacceptable and uncalled for,” Cova Martinez, a sophomore who supported President Trump’s 2020 campaign, said over text. “My view on the president has changed since the election. […] He has let [the] millions of Americans who voted for him down.”

Many pundits and hosts found themselves at a loss for words as the true extent of the situation became apparent. MSNBC’s Lester Holt went as far as to call it a coup, while more conservative outlets like Fox News condemned the escalation, dubbing it a riot.

“I think it’s fair to say the president incited the violence, history teacher Carlos Couzo said. “For the president of the United States, it’s not a ‘good-enough’ excuse for him to come forward and say ‘Well, I didn’t think it was going to get out of hand.’”

Many who were involved in the Black Lives Matter protests over the summer also expressed outrage at the treatment of the rioters compared to the summer’s protests in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and others. At the D.C. protests from May 30 to June 2, 2020, 427 ‘unrest related’ arrests were logged, compared to the 68 mainly curfew-related arrests as thousands stormed the halls of government.

“You can draw a comparison between the fact that [football player Colin Kaepernick and others] were kneeling was outrageous, but bringing a Confederate flag into the capitol, that’s okay,” Genevieve Rossin, who teaches World History and leads the MAST Miami history and culture club ‘Club 305,’ said.

So where does the country go and how do we move forward? Firstly, it’s important to remain calm and level headed in judgements and retrospectives.

Jared Lutz, who also teaches history, echoed this sentiment, saying “I don’t think it will rise to the level of 9/11 […]. It looked like amateur hour. You have a bunch of white supremacists basically sitting around taking selfies of themselves in the Capitol building after roughing up some people.”

Agitators and Capitol Police clashed as protests rapidly became riots. (Courtesy of Graeme Sloan/Bloomberg)

Mr. Lutz went on to make note that this sort of spectacle seems inevitable for a president who repeatedly echoed inflamatory rhetoric rally after rally, repeatedly calling the election ‘stolen’, and offering to pay their legal fees should Blue Lives begin to matter less than they did 6 months ago. “It is, in some ways, a fitting end to the Trump presidency,” he said.

In spite of this, action must be and is being taken. Representative Illhan Omar of Minnesota has drafted and released two new Articles of Impeachment against the president, citing the Raffensperger call as election interference and the president’s statements during the rally and on Twitter as incitement of violence and attempted coup. Many others are calling on Vice President Michael Pence to enact Amendment 25, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Jose Companioni, who teaches government at MAST, provided a rundown on what that entails.

“The 25th Amendment [is a remnant] of what used to happen on ships when the captain was no longer suitable for command. The people that are making the assessment are within the executive branch,” Mr. Companioni said.

That is important, because those people are, generally speaking, selected by the president. Their judgement is therefore less likely to be politically motivated, retaining the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

Mr. Companioni continued, saying, “[These cabinet members] then make an analysis. Then, if that analysis is that the president is incapacitated, […] the president is relieved of his commission.”

The presidential line of succession is then responsible for dictating who will fill the position. Should 25.4 be enacted, that means the presidential duty would fall to Mike Pence for the next few days until President-Elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is sworn in on January 20.

Many questions remain unanswered, and regardless of whether or not the president is guilty of wrongdoing, the actions perpetrated set a dangerous precedent for democracy. Mr. Lutz expressed concern, remarking that this feels like something that would happen in one of the third world countries his class studies.

 While the rest of us hunker down and wait for January 20, not much else can be done except to hope that those in power make the right decisions, and those who are guilty be held accountable.

Max Strongman contributed to this article.

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The Man Who Could Not Be King