“Deadly To Our Democracy and To Our People”: Feminists React To the Trump-Led Insurrection

Wednesday’s violent pro-Trump protests at the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in four deaths and just 52 arrests, drew reactions of shock and horror from people around the world.

In response to the widespread chaos, many are condemning the violence as undemocratic and joining the steady drumbeat calling for the removal of President Trump. President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris joined others in sounding the alarm on the discrepancy between the police response to these events and last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests—which prompted over 430 arrests in D.C. (88 in one night) and police use of tear gas and other violent crowd control measures, which on Wednesday were inadequate and delayed at best.

Lawmakers Call for Action

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, along with multiple public officials and business leaders, have called for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from office.

“This man is deadly to our democracy and to our people,” said Pelosi during a Thursday press conference. “In inciting sedition as he did yesterday, he must be removed from office. Although there are 13 days left, every day can be a horror show in America.”

dc protests nancy pelosi trump
“We are in a very difficult place in our country as long as Donald Trump still sits in the White House,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at a Thursday press conference. (Screenshot from CBS)

Pelosi added that if Pence and his Cabinet do not act, Congress is prepared to move forward with impeachment, adding, “That is the overwhelming sentiment of my caucus — and the American people by the way.”

Pelosi also said that House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving will be resigning, and called for the resignation of Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund. When Democrats take the Senate majority later this month, Schumer announced he will fire Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Mike Stenger.

“In the early moments, there were not enough forces there,” Schumer said at a press conference. “And the question is, why weren’t they there in advance? And then why didn’t they get there ASAP? All of that needs a looking into.”

Meanwhile, members of the House Appropriations Committee, the committee that funds the Capitol police, announced its intention to open an investigation into the security failures which allowed yesterday’s mob to breach the Capitol.

“The breach of the Capitol raises serious questions about what law enforcement did and what they should have done differently,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee Chairman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) in a joint statement.

After all, journalists who monitor far-right online communities said Trump supporters have been openly planning for weeks on social media, and Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research organization, reported that in the days leading up to the riot, social media abounded with signs of imminent violence.

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Several other Democratic Congress members, including Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Jamal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and more, have signed on to a resolution to impeach President Trump (again), introduced by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).

(See this running list of Congress members calling for impeachment or the invocation of the 25th Amendment.)

In addition to these efforts, newly-elected Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) has also introduced legislation calling for the removal of the Republican legislators who “incited this domestic terror attack.”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who had called for National Guard assistance in advance of the protests, went on air Wednesday to condemn the protests as “shameful” and “unpatriotic” as protesters stormed the Capitol, as well as ordered a 6 p.m. curfew. On Thursday, she called the Capitol Police response to the riots “a failure,” adding, “We must understand why the federal law enforcement response was much stronger” during this summer’s Black Lives Matter protests.

Double Standards Abound

Many feminists have also pointed out the discrepancy between the behavior of Capitol police towards protestors yesterday, and their behavior towards past protests in the same building—like their forceful removal of disability advocates from the Senate in 2017, or the arrest of over 200 peaceful protesters, many of them sexual assault survivors, during the 2018 Brett Kavanaugh nomination hearings.

Paying Tribute to Those on the Frontlines

Many paid tribute to the journalists and photographers who risked injury to document yesterday’s events.

And to the essential workers, who are ultimately the ones who have to clean up in the aftermath of this violence—havoc wreaked by violent rioters and looters with noted ties to white supremacy.

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Oliver Haug is a social media editor and podcast producer with Ms. magazine. They are also a freelance journalist, focusing on LGBTQ+ issues and sexual politics. Their writing has previously appeared in Bitch Magazine, VICE, them.us, the New York Times' newsletter "The Edit," and elsewhere. You can read more of their work at oliverhaug.contently.com, and follow them on Twitter @cohaug.