Thursday January 7, 2021 | NATIONAL
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Yesterday in the USA capital Washington, DC there was a mob attack into the Capitol Building which is the meeting place of the United States Congress and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. It is located on Capitol Hill at the eastern end of the National Mall in Washington.
Protesters that were evidently incited by the current (but outgoing) President Donald Trump swarmed into the building and caused disarray, havoc and damage in the main chamber and various offices in the building.
The violence was denounced around the world, including on Twitter by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and here in BC by Premier John Horgan. It’s unusual for world leaders to directly denounce the leader of the free world. (President-Elect Joe Biden comes to office on January 20, 2021.)
Social media giants took a deep step into management of the public discourse. Twitter suspended Trump’s account for 12 hours. Facebook and Instagram have blocked his account.
Violence against the democratic process is what has stirred a worldwide response to the events in Washington, DC yesterday. Other jurisdictions were also affected, including in Seattle, WA which is close to home here in BC.
A similar response against the arrival of democrats into office was seen locally in Sooke in 2017 when the NDP under John Horgan were elected to office (the word ‘Dem’ and other markings were spray-painted on the front of Sooke Community Hall in blue paint). There was something very disturbing about that; the perpetrators were never identified but were obviously local and angry.
Federal NDP leader in Canada’s official opposition, Jagmeet Singh, issued a statement today which denounces the actions in Washington yesterday, and explores what Canadian leaders should do about racism and hate:
“The horror that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. yesterday was frightening and it was incited by American President Donald Trump. He had the opportunity to end it and to clearly denounce the actions of those attempting to overthrow democracy and put the lives of many in danger, but he refused to.
Let us be clear, this was an act of domestic terrorism. Democracy must not be intimidated. Leaders and politicians in the U.S. – and here in Canada – have a duty to end divisive rhetoric and end the flaming of hatred. What we saw yesterday, was a direct result of dangerous, divisive speech.
While we may be quick to say this is a problem that exists only in the United States – hate knows no borders. We need to act with urgency to stop the flames of hatred here in Canada. Currently, over 300 white supremacists groups are operating in our country. Earlier this year, the Proud Boys, a right-wing extremist group that promotes white supremacist views, made international headlines after being bolstered by Donald Trump. And since then, they’ve escalated their hatred. Armed with deadly weapons yesterday, they joined the group that led the assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Now, it is more urgent than ever, that the government works to immediately ban and dismantle all hate organizations operating in Canada. They can begin that work by banning and designating the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization.
The government can also immediately start tackling online hate by implementing measures that will make social media platforms accountable to remove hateful and violent extremism content on their platform.
People watching yesterday saw a stark contrast in the handling of what transpired at the U.S. Capitol. When Black, Brown and Indigenous people are demanding justice in the face of police brutality which takes their lives and robs them of their dignity, they are met with violence and brutality. Yesterday, when white supremacists attempted to overthrow a democratic election with deadly weapons, they were met with de-escalation and respect. The police reaction in Washington showcases systemic racism in action. We need to tackle systemic racism in policing and in our institutions.
Like many Canadians, I’ve experienced the devastating effects of hate in my life. It was allies who stood up and confronted it that made things better.
Canadians have a right to feel safe. We have to very clearly denounce hate and give it no air to breathe and no space to take hold. And we must work together to immediately dismantle white supremacy in Canada.”