Michigan’s Role in the development, and response, to riots inside the Capital Building


Throughout last year, Michigan was shown to be one of the epicenters of pro-Trump demonstrations, with another capitol building stormed. Yemeni American News Writer Simon Albaugh explains the past year of activity, with how Trump eventually lost his support in Washington.

By Simon Albaugh – Yemeni American News

The rise in right-wing political violence has been tracked since the very beginning of President Trump’s Campaign. First it was acts of violence against synagogues, mosques and historically black churches. Now as of yesterday, it’s an all-out assault on the highest institutions of the United States. The people who stormed the capitol building and ransacked the offices and legislative chambers are a small portion of the American populace, as proven by the recent general election. But how did this small group become so emboldened that they actually stormed against police, riot squads and capitol security to capture the nation’s Capital?

A lot of organizations say that they’ve seen this coming for a long time, and the numbers in Michigan show it. Over the past six years, reported hate crimes have been on the rise by just over 18% according to data published by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). This, and what the Southern Poverty Law Center has identified as 27 Hate Organizations in the State of Michigan, have played a part in emboldening the broader pro-Trump coalition to make something like yesterday possible.

The Role of Social Media in the Spread of Far-Right Propaganda

In his book about the rise of radical propaganda online, writer Andrew Marantz inserts himself into the lives of the group responsible for normalizing this sort of propaganda. As a group of cynical free-speech enthusiasts, they decry the damage far-right extremism has done to the American political discourse, but not enough to admit their role in it.

Using mainstream social media platforms, these far-right content creators have spread messaging that calls globalization a Jewish plot, Islam a satanic cult and the American Government being infiltrated by Marxists. These thinly-veiled dog whistles for fascism have became so widely available that social media sites like Facebook have struggled to contain the spread of this messaging.

A Demonstrator at a Rally on Nov. 6, 2020 showing support for the online conspiracy theory QAnon.

In the plot to abduct Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the group that was caught reportedly met at a protest organized by social media campaigns. Groups like Michigan United for Liberty spread the message that an event that resulted in storming Michigan’s Capitol Building would be a civil act against the social distancing measures ordered by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

It’s no small stretch of the imagination that Michigan’s Capitol Protest back in April that resulted in Protesters attempting to reach the Michigan Legislative Floor, and in which armed gunmen sat above legislators in the gallery, was proof that something like yesterday could’ve always happened. But now with unrestricted access to inciteful content on social media platforms like Parler, the tone has certainly changed.

Five from Michigan were arrested last night in connection with the attempted insurrection that happened in Washington DC, according to crime data from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Their charges mostly deal with curfew violations, with one person being charged with unlawful entry into the Capital Building. However, of the estimated 25,000 people who attended the rally, along with hundreds of people who breached the capital building, only 69 people were arrested in connection to the riot in the Capital Building. Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police have released a list of hundreds of persons of interest related to the riot.


The results of the Capital Riots

In Trump’s immediate sphere, around a dozen officials have announced their resignation from the administration. Michigan-based billionaire Betsy Devos, who served as Trump’s Secretary of Education, wrote that “the eyes of America’s children and students – the rising generation who will inherit the republic we leave them – are watching what is unfolding in Washington today.”

“We must set a better example for them, and we must teach them the solemn obligations and duties that come with the title ‘American.’ The peaceful transfer of power is what separates American representative democracy from banana republics.”

Calls for impeachment were already being announced on Wednesday, with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D – Mich.) saying “[Donald Trump] needs to be impeached and removed immediately.” As part of the overwhelming response by Democratic lawmakers, Rep. Ilhan Omer (D-Minn.) announced that she began drafting articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump as early as the day of the Capital Riot. The House of Representatives is expected, at this moment, to push forth a resolution to be voted on next week.

Michigan leaders were among the quickest to respond to the events on Wednesday, with Governor Whitmer calling it an “insurrection” that resulted in damage, vandalism and risks to national security.

“What is unfolding today in our nation’s capital is truly appalling,” Whitmer said. “Violence, vandalism and insurrection have no place in this great country of ours. We are a nation of laws, not mobs… Now is the time to put this election behind us once and for all. We must unify as one nation to defeat our real enemy, which is the pandemic that has taken far too many of our friends, neighbors and loved ones.”

Demonstrators protesting against the counting process at the TCF Center in Detroit, Mich. (Jan. 5, 2020)

But before the end of a distressing day for lawmakers, security officials, D.C. Police and Americans, the United States Senate voted to confirm the electoral college results that place Joe Biden at a full 74 Electoral Votes ahead of President Donald Trump. Voting members of the senate confirmed the election results by 93 – 7, with senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Josh Hawley (R-AL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and John Kennedy (R-LS) voting to overturn the election results in Arizona.

This was the final legitimate challenge to President Donald Trump’s failed campaign for re-election. Despite a broad support for the president in events such as Rudy Giuliani’s legal challenge in front of the Michigan House Oversight Committee, the Capital Protests and the plot to abduct Gov. Whitmer, the President lost.