Yesterday, when the United States Capitol building was breached for the first time in over 200 years by armed and angry Trump supporters and rioters, many sat at home, staring at their screens and news reports in disbelief. President Elect Joe Biden gave his remarks shortly after the siege began, and demanded for President Donald Trump to put an end to the violence caused by his supporters who believe the baseless claim that the election was “stolen.” The surreal nature of the attack was captured by journalists and photographers who risked their safety to archive the historical event.
And today, former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama spoke to her millions of followers on social media, to ask everyone to reckon with the “painful” reality of yesterday’s events at the U.S. Capitol, the lack of consequences faced by supporters who violently broke the law and were treated with what some would say liken to just a slap on the wrist (if that), compared to the way peaceful Black Lives Matter protestors were assaulted by law enforcement last summer.
“Like all of you, I’ve been feeling so many emotions since yesterday,” Obama tweeted, accompanying her caption with a two page screenshot of her assessment of the day’s events.
She started the letter by saying she woke up “elated” to see that Raphael Warnock had been elected Georgia’s first Black senator. However, like many other citizens, her good mood quickly soured. “I watched as a gang—organized, violent, and mad they’d lost an election—laid siege to the United States Capitol. They set up gallows. They proudly waved the traitorous flag of the Confederacy through the halls. They desecrated the center of American government. And once authorities finally gained control of the situation, these rioters and gang members were led out of the building not in handcuffs, but free to carry on with their days,” she wrote.
“The day was a fulfillment of the wishes of an infantile and unpatriotic president who can’t handle the truth of his own failures,” she said, referring to Trump’s urging of his followers to storm the Capitol earlier that day. “And the wreckage lays at the feet of a party and media apparatus that gleefully cheered him on, knowing full well the possibility of consequences like these.”
Barack Obama released his statement on the event yesterday, echoing the sentiment by saying, “We’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.”
“This summer’s Black Lives Matter protests were an overwhelmingly peaceful movement—our nation’s largest demonstrations ever, bringing together people of every race and class and encouraging millions to re-examine their own assumptions and behavior,” Obama continued. “And yet, in city after city, day after day, we saw peaceful protestors met with brute force. We saw cracked skulls and mass arrests, law enforcement pepper spraying its way through a peaceful demonstration for a presidential photo op,” she said. “Seeing the gulf between the responses to yesterday’s riot and this summer’s peaceful protests and the larger movement for racial justice is so painful.”
Obama continued the later by asking Trump’s supporters and Silicon Valley tech giants who “enabled” Trump by waiting until the eleventh hour to block his Tweets and Facebook posts from appearing on feeds and inciting violence to acknowledge the harmful ideology they have supported and “publicly and forcefully rebuke him and the actions of that mob.”
“The work of putting America back together, of truly repairing what is broken, isn’t the work of any individual politician or political party,” Obama wrote near the end of her letter. “It’s up to each of us to do our part.”