‘Disgraceful,’ ‘horrifying,’ ‘anti-American’: Campus political groups condemn riots in Capitol

Jan. 6, 2021, 9:55 p.m.

Student political groups issued statements denouncing rioters who stormed the Capitol on Wednesday evening, joining Hoover Institution Director Condoleezza Rice, world leaders and former presidents and countless others in condemning the day’s events.

Angry mobsters entered the Capital building, destroying doors and windows and waving Trump — and in some cases Confederate — flags. The events followed what began as a peaceful pro-Trump rally and occurred as Congress met to officially certify the electoral college results of the 2020 presidential election.

Stanford Women in Politics (SWIP), Stanford Democrats and Stanford in Government fully denounced the riots and the events leading up to it. While also rebuking the violence, Stanford College Republicans (SCR) repeated unsubstantiated claims about potential fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Stanford in Government (SIG) Chair Antonia Hellman ’21 told The Daily that she is “appalled by the display of sheer disrespect for American democracy and our institution.”

Walker Stewart ’23, who spoke on behalf of Stanford College Republicans (SCR), also condemned the events and called the day disgraceful, anti-American and dangerous. He also said that the wielding of Confederate flags inside the Capitol building was “extraordinarily dangerous” and called President Trump’s response “lackluster.”

“Obviously, the right to assemble and the right to protest is fundamental in our democracy in our country,” he said. “But when they storm the Capitol, when they are violent, when they’re interrupting the proceedings of Congress, they’ve taken a step way too far … we condemn it in the strongest possible way.”

‘Disgraceful,’ ‘horrifying,’ ‘anti-American’: Campus political groups condemn riots in Capitol
Stanford College Republicans (SCR) posted a statement following Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol. (Screenshot: SAM CATANIA/The Stanford Daily)

But SCR stopped short of identifying claims that the 2020 presidential election may have been illegitimate as false. A statement later posted by the group said they still “fully support the efforts of President Trump and other Republicans in the House and Senate to object to the results” and alleged “voluminous evidence of illegality, fraud and irregularities.” 

Claims of voter fraud have been broadly rejected by U.S. courts, with Trump and his political allies now having lost over 50 post-election lawsuits.

Stanford alum Josh Hawley ’02 was the first senator to contest the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Associated Students of Stanford University Undergraduate Senate Parliamentarian Mià Bahr drafted a resolution that calls upon Stanford to condemn Sen. Hawley (R-Mo.) According to the resolution, Hawley’s actions violate the “ethos of the University and the fundamental standard.” Bahr did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Treatment of rioters on Wednesday drew comparisons by SWIP and Stanford Democrats to treatment of protestors during the Black Lives Matter protests this summer.

SWIP vice president Anna Chavez ’23 said the difference in law enforcement response between Wednesday’s events and during the Black Lives Matter protests was apparent. Police appeared to remove barricades and one was pictured taking a selfie with a protestor. By contrast, police appeared to be more violent with protestors over the summer.

“The fact that they were mainly white Trump supporters meant that they did not face consequences at all,” she said. The lack of retaliation, Chavez said, “shows how white nationalism really plays a role into what happens today.” At least 13 people have been arrested, according to CNN.

Kevin Li ’22 and Ria Calcagno ’22, who spoke on behalf of the Stanford Democrats executive board, also called out what they perceived as a discrepancy in the use of police force against Black and white Americans. According to Li and Calcagno, the restraint shown by police as people mobbed a joint session of Congress illustrates the “great degree of dangerous hypocrisy and racism in our country.” 

They said that Wednesday’s riot was not an isolated incident, but rather the result of “poisonous insults to democracy hurled day after day, year over year, by Donald Trump, his accomplices, and his supporters,” in the joint statement. As a result of the president’s actions, the student leaders wrote, the peaceful transfer of power was disrupted and at least one person was killed.

When asked directly about law enforcement’s response to protests today relative to their response during summer Black Lives Matter protests, Stewart said the response at the Capitol was “completely inept, wholly inadequate.” However, he said comparing the response to that during Black Lives Matter protests would be “premature” given details are still emerging.

All four groups indicated that the civil unrest that led to Wednesday’s events will need to be addressed and healed by future governments.

Hellman wrote that she is “hopeful” that Wednesday’s riot serves as “a wake-up call” for leaders who have “stoked the flames of hatred and bigotry in this country.”

Li and Calcagno said they hope future citizens and leaders will “salvage our tarnished democratic norms and values.” They added that they recognize that this will not be easy, and encouraged citizens to contribute their time, effort, attention and vote.

Contact Sam Catania at samcat ‘at’ stanford.edu and Anna Milstein at annamil ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Sam Catania ’24 is the Volume 262 Editor in Chief of The Daily. Previously, he was Chief Technology Officer, the producer of the weekly video roundup, a news beat reporter covering COVID-19 on Stanford's campus and the assessment team leader of The Daily's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) team. Sam hails from Philadelphia and is studying Symbolic Systems. You can follow him on Twitter @sbcatania. Contact him at scatania 'at' stanforddaily.comAnna Milstein ’23 is a desk editor for Vol. 259 Academic News and a Staff Writer. Contact her at amilstein ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.

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