The angry mob brought pitchforks, erected a scaffold complete with noose on the capitol grounds, breached the Capitol building itself and beat a cop to death with a fire extinguisher.
Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had just issued a city-wide curfew for 6 pm. “Essential workers, including healthcare and media, are exempt.” As I left my apartment curfew-exempt, CBS’s Ed O’Keefe said something that was on the back of my mind, too. At what point does someone step in and run these folks off? “And will it happen before sunset?” O’Keefe asked aloud to no one in particular.
“If not, this could get interesting.”
I jogged out in sneakers, sweats, mask, 59Fifty, and El Teco hoodie under a canvas jacket—past the Cambria Hotel on 9th Street where a dozen or more MAGA heads puffed cigarettes—into Chinatown where the traffic shutdown had motorists gripping their steering wheels with both hands, unsure of what to do, listening to radio reports interrupting regularly scheduled programming across the globe of mayhem on Capitol Hill.
“I’ll be there with you,” the President lied to supporters at the MAGA rally on the White House lawn earlier in the day. But, I did not see Trump march down Pennsylvania Avenue as I sprinted toward the scene of the crime.
Arriving at 9th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue after a 20-minute jog, I turned left toward the Capitol, a lone jogger in the eastbound lane of the broad, iconic, monumental American thoroughfare, while thousands of MAGA whites calmly walked east, back toward the White House, away from Capitol Hill where what I could already see from a half-mile away made my jaw drop under my mask.
The entire inaugural grandstand on the west front of the Capitol building facing the national mall was overrun by a mob of flag-waving traitors with an order directly from the president of the United States to “fight like hell.”
Pennsylvania Avenue To The Capitol
But the President was not the only person absent on the length of Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. The police were entirely absent. In the distance, I spotted dozens of flashing lights on the north side of the Capitol where all the officers had presumably responded to the coup attempt in the halls of Congress.
The danger to the District of Columbia couldn’t have been more serious, with no law enforcement monitoring the mass movement of thousands of MAGA terrorists strolling back into downtown Washington. All of Washington’s cops were on Capitol Hill. Storefronts everywhere else were vulnerable to easy looting. The planks of wood that covered them on Election Day had been taken down months ago.
“FUCK BIDEN” read a flag that caught my eye among the hundreds flying in the crisp Potomac breeze that blew above the mob. I thought about the president-elect’s message about the possibilities of bipartisan reconciliation during his term as 4th president of the United States.
The MAGA white man waving the “FUCK BIDEN” flag begged to differ. He was enormous looking right at me when I took out my phone to make a video of the flag. “LOVE WISCONSIN, BROTHER!” the man saluted me as I walked by him.
“Righto!” I shot back, confused until I realized my 59Fifty was a Milwaukee Bucks hat that could keep me safe.
At the Peace Monument traffic circle in front of the Capitol Building, a camera crew of four young journalists were harassed at point-blank by a baby boomer woman on a megaphone with a cigarette rasp on her voice. “WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO APOLOGIZE, CNN? CNN IS TRAITORS! YOU GUYS IS TRAITORS! DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW TO SPELL ‘TRAITORS’? YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELVES! REPENT BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE! WANNA DO A STORY? WHY DON’T YOU FILM ME AND PUT IT ON YOUR STUPID SHOW?”
The camera crew slowly turned and walked aways with the angry MAGA white woman on the megaphone following closely behind, encouraging the crowd to join her in scolding the journalists.
The Scene of the Crime
Say nothing. Speak to no one. Just observe. Listen. Record. Get home alive. Tell the world.
“WE HAVE AN ANNOUNCEMENT,” a middle aged MAGA white man on the capitol grounds told the crowd through a megaphone. “FOLKS, WE’VE GOT AN ANNOUNCEMENT. THEY SHOT A GIRL. SHE WAS 16 YEARS OLD. THE SHOT A 16 YEAR OLD GIRL IN THE CAPITOL.”
A hush fell over the crowd that was almost instantly broken by the thunder of a smoke bomb detonation on the west front of the Capitol building facing the Washington Monument along the National Mall.
Of course, the MAGA white on the megaphone was full of shit on both counts. Ashli Babbitt was a grown-ass woman and Air Force veteran who bought into the seediest of Trump times, lies so hideous they exist mostly behind the curtain of anonymous social media handles inciting outrage in online backwaters where news-illiterate masses of white Americans are radicalized.
And not just white gringos. Throughout the mob that took the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon were many white Latinos, identifiable by the surnames sewn onto the military gear they wore to our nation’s capital last week. RODRIGUEZ. MORALES. DIAZ. And so on.
Military gear was common, with fashions ranging from the spectrum of options for avatars of armed gunmen and first person shooter games like Call of Duty. I wasn’t wasting time on XBox Live. The lessons were real now that these treasonous bastards were right in front of me and they were storming what was once the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body in a tragicomic autogolpe.
Approaching the west front of the Capitol building, MAGA whites had turned steel barricades into ladders to climb into the white marble terraces of the legislative heart of the American way of life.
“He said go home! Read his tweets!” shouted a MAGA white insurrectionist mom with a lavender fanny pack around her waist waving a small American flag to get the mob’s attention. “Trump says we need to LEAVE! I’m serious! Read his tweets!”
“WELL THEN, FUCK YOU, TOO, MR. TRUMP!” a man shouted back at her. “All the tweetin’ and no action. All the tweets and no action. You’re no better than they are, Mr. President! It’s not about Trump, friends. He’s telling you to go home. You can’t have peace for the wicked.” The president’s words had lit a blaze that his tongue could not extinguish.
BOOM. Another explosion on the high marble terrace was probably a law enforcement reminder for the mob to leave, but who could know for certain?
At this range, the insurrection air was thick with diseases like misinformation, white male aggression, and COVID-19.
My mask stayed up, which put me in the minority in a crowd full of uncovered faces.
Fearing a stampede and looking to get out of MAGA earshot, I ducked under the inaugural grandstand on stage right of where the 46th presidency of the United States will begin in a crushing political iceberg on all fronts.
Our nation’s capital constantly hosts protests, receptions, speeches, town halls, and so on. Donald Trump’s failed presidency has beckoned plenty of protests to Washington, from the Women’s March the day after his inauguration, to protesters who parked their wheelchairs in front of Mitch McConnell’s office, to Black Lives Matter protests.
But Jan. 6 was no protest; it was a treasonous mob bent on murder and mayhem. There must be consequences for this deadly clown show or we will see it again soon.
Multiple lawmakers would soon describe the events as an “insurrection” incited by the president. Under the Constitution, the offense can be punished with banishment from public life.
A cop got brained with a fire extinguisher, which increased the crime scene’s body count.
BOOM. “What’s that?” asked my attorney in Chicago in my ear pods.
Bombas lacrimogenas. “Oh fuck,” said my attorney. “Time to go. You’ve got 50 minutes to get home before curfew. Can you make it?”
I took one last look up at the Capitol dome, now obscured with smoke. What a fucking mess, I thought, as I jogged down Pennsylvania Avenue, eventually taking a northbound bikeshare up 9th Street and past the Cambria Hotel where a dozen or so MAGA whites smoked cigarettes, vaped, and swapped their personal account of the day with one another.
When I got home, I walked my dog after curfew to eavesdrop just as a black man on a bike share was stopped by a Metropolitan Police Cruiser at 9th and O Street NW.
The cop got out of his cruiser and asked the man if he knew about the curfew.
“Time to go,” said the MAGA whites who quietly shuffled into the Cambria Hotel lobby and disappeared up the stairs to their rooms as the black man was handcuffed and taken away.
The following morning cars with out-of-state plates had been vandalized along 9th Street where the MAGA mob hugged and fistbumped, promising to find each other online to coordinate their next event.
If there was any feeling of regret or remorse among the MAGA whites on Thursday morning it was only that, in the end, the election was never overturned.
This would change over the next few days as the traitors of the Capitol Hill mob of Jan. 6 were identified and arrested. The magnitude of the charges these idiots face has only intensified in the week since last week’s mob.
Will Trump pardon his ‘special’ insurrectionists? That’s a question that lingers now, a week later, as the fallout continues for those who were involved.
From the perspective of this correspondent who was there on the ground on Jan. 6, the punishments must fit the crimes in terms of duration and severity. If not, this will happen again.