On Wednesday, January 6, less than a week into the New Year, the world watched in horror as hundreds of pro-Trump rioters swarmed downtown DC and, soon after, broke into one of the most storied buildings in the United States: the US Capitol. At that time, Congress was confirming the US electoral college vote that elected Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States. The rioters broke windows and fought with the few law enforcement officers guarding the building. Eventually, rioters fired shots, and the Capitol went into lockdown. Reactions to the insurrection took place across the world, with many using Twitter to share their opinion.
“Deeply worrying developments in Washington, D.C. This is an assault on democracy. President Trump and several members of Congress bear substantial responsibility for developments. The democratic election process must be respected,” Tweeted Stefan Löfvenon, Prime Minister of Sweden.
“What happened today in Washington DC is not American. We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy,” said French President Emmanuel Macron in a video he posted to Twitter.
“Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld - and it will be,” tweeted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Countries from democratic Western European allies to autocratic rivals, from Argentina to Fiji, responded strongly, describing the events variously as “utterly horrifying,” “worrying,” and “an attack on democracy.” China compared the events to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, boasting that “not one demonstrator died” in its own harsh crackdown – while in DC, five people, including a police officer, were killed.
Political leaders in the US, both Democrats and Republicans, spoke out as the riots were happening, including Vice President Mike Pence. Pence tweeted “To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today: you did not win. Violence never wins. Freedom wins. And this is still the People’s House.”
Meanwhile, then-President-elect Joe Biden spoke out on television, saying, “The scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent a true America. What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.” Biden then called on the president to call back the rioters, and tell them to go home. “I call on President Trump to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
However, President Trump did not tell the rioters to go home, exulting on Twitter: “These are the things and events when a sacred landslide election victory was so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from the great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and peace. Remember this day forever!”
Due to the riots at the Capitol, President Trump and several Twitter accounts associated with the far-right-extremist-organization the Proud Boys have been permanently banned from the platform.
Trump was impeached on January 13 for his role in inciting the riots, but few congressional Republicans backed the proceedings. Whether or not he is convicted by the Senate, the image of insurrectionists storming the capitol building of the world’s most powerful democracy is with us to stay.