Making Sense of the Attack on the Capitol

Aaron Huertas
10 min readJan 10, 2021

This is a loose transcript of the Close Read podcast for 1/9/20. I’ll be cross-posting these to Medium with more frequency.

As I’m recording this, I can look out my window and see the very top of the Capitol dome. I’ve lived in Washington for 15 years. My grandmother was actually born here. Her mother worked in the Senate dining room. Her father was a mason and he did some work at the Capitol, too.

Washington is our capital city. It’s also home to 700,000 people. This is where we live and play and work and worship. And this week the Capitol — which is geographically and politically the center of our city — was attacked.

I’ve obviously been following this closely, so I wanted to share some perspective from the ground and also talk about the rhetoric of insurrection, how we’re trying to process what are some unprecedented event for our country, and where we go from here.

First, a local perspective. We knew this was coming. We had no idea the Capitol would be breached. That was a shock. But local organizrs in DC and anti-fascist researchers around the country knew militia activity was spoiking. There was open chatting in Trump forums about bringing weapons to DC to lay siege to the capital.

Over the past few weeks, MAGA marchers have come here along with right wing miliita groups who have attacked passerby and attacked anti-fascist counter mobilizations. But the militia groups, particularly the Proud Boys screwed up last month. The burned a Black Lives Matter sign outside of one of our Black churches. And in DC, you never mess with the Black churches. That’s a lot of old school political power here. So the mayor and the council were leaning much harder on our local police to take the Proud Boys and right wing violence seriously.

As things ramped up toward the electoral college count — most of the anti-fascit and civil rights organizers in DC decided to step back from street action. Instead, they focused on denying accommodation to the militias and they succeeded in getting at least one hotel — Harry’s where the Proud Boys liked to stay — to shut down.

The one street action I was aware of got cancelled after the Capitol was breached.

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Aaron Huertas

Democracy is pretty cool. We should try it some time. Voting rights, science policy, political communication and grassroots activism.