Republican, Trump supporter students respond to Capitol Hill riots

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U.S. Capitol. Photo courtesy of Nik Wojcik, SFBay

Kate Kotlyar staff writer 

Karely Molina Martinez staff writer

A mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in support of an ongoing  Trump’s presidency on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.  

That same day, Trump’s Save America Rally occurred, where roughly 30,000 attendees came to listen to Trump’s pleas to march to the Capitol in protest of former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential win. Congress was scheduled to certify the electoral college votes and confirm Biden’s win, an action which Trump and his supporters refuted by fighting the election results.  

The violent actions from Wednesday contributed to discussions in and out of the classroom about students’ thoughts and feelings on the current president and the potential consequences of his rhetoric and actions. Trump supporters and Republican students like junior Justin Katiraie, who supports Trump for his stabilization treaties in the Middle East, feel that “what the [rioters] did was wrong.” 

“The storming of the Capitol has made me feel embarrassed to be a Trump supporter. What they did was animalistic and I wish it never happened,” Katiraie said. 

Although the pro-Trump community faced backlash for their act of terrorism,  Katiraie has not wavered his view of the president. However, his view of the GOP has changed.

“I still support Trump, but not as strongly, because it doesn’t change the fact that he has helped our country and the Middle East,” Katiraie said. “[But,] my views have changed. I started to see how the Republicans can be vicious and violent…It changed my views to see how actually both political parties are similar and that they should be united rather than cause havoc and chaos.” 

Trump supporter junior Shiraz Shikuri’s views towards Trump have not changed as a result of the riots in D.C.

“My views haven’t changed. People will always fight for what they believe in. Yes, destroying the Capitol building because of a presidential loss is totally absurd to me, but no, I still support Trump,” Shikuri said. 

Shikuri does, however, feel that the event on Capitol Hill gives Republicans a bad image, and goes against what the party previously believed in

“What happened at the Capitol was an unnecessary event that will now portray Republicans as what everyone hates for a long time. I think that just like Democrats, Republicans have the right to protest under their first amendment right. But, contributing to the destruction of the United States [property]—the only thing the Republicans hated about the [Black Lives Matter] protests, they did it themselves. I don’t condone or agree with the destruction,” Shikuri said. 

However, other students’ attitudes towards President Trump have changed. Republican sophomore Nick Adesina, who previously supported Trump simply because he was the GOP leader, feels that Trump encouraged the rioters. 

“Trump has been fanning the fire of his base for months. He has taken advantage of their intense anger and attempted to use it to subvert our democratic process,” Adesina said. “He should never have encouraged any of them. It angers me that someone can do so much to fuel division in his party. He knows that whatever he tells them, they will believe. He should not make them believe that they are ‘patriots’ in any sense.”

As a result of the violent behavior at the Capitol building, a stronger police presence was required to control the group of rioters, an action which most Trump supporters and Republicans agree was necessary. Conservative freshman Jacob Shayefar, who supports President Trump for his policies, feels that those who were involved must be “punished to the furthest extent of the law.” 

“I hope that they get whatever the proper punishment is within the law. I hope they receive it. When there is a riot like that I do know with general police procedure it is very difficult to get all of them, so they typically only arrest the more rowdy ones. So I would wish that everyone who was breaking a law, everyone who does the crime does the time. But I don’t necessarily know if that’s realistic,” Shayefar said. 

In terms of handling the situation, Shayefar feels that they “could always do more” and there were better alternatives to controlling the people. 

“[Trump’s] immediate response was to post on Twitter, when many other Republicans were on the TV denouncing it. I think he could’ve done that, [announced on Television] ” Shayefar said. 

Current Trump supporters and Republicans alike feel that Wednesday’s events were preventable. Senior Daniel Rabkin was once a strong Trump supporter who “just loved his plans” when Trump ran for office. Rabkin now feels there was more to be done. 

“It was something that was so preventable. And, you know, in the beginning of the day when Trump and Giuliani had their big rally, the Save America Rally, they could have definitely improved their word choice in order to prevent such a thing from happening,” Rabkin said. “It showed me that democracy is very fragile, and that if we don’t protect our institutions, they will fall apart.” 

Multiple Republican and pro-Trump students believe, as a result of what happened, those involved must be prosecuted to the furthest extent. Rabkin has said that these actions were “completely unjustifiable.” 

“This is exactly the opposite of what the Republican Party has stood for this year. The protests are fine, but riots are never okay. Destruction of property is never okay, especially when it’s as significant as the Capitol building,” Rabkin said. “And I think the protests, before the riots, were justified because we have the right to protest. If the people believe that their government is not listening to them, it’s part of our social contract to go out and let…our politicians know that we’re not okay with it. So the protests were absolutely fine [and] totally justified. But the riots? Absolutely not.”

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