The storming of the United States Capitol by white nationalists and other hateful groups Jan. 6 was jarring for citizens across the nation.
For some, the attacks served as a wake-up call to the hatefulness perpetuated by former President Trump. However, given his rhetoric over the last four years, it should not surprise us that it culminated in a violent attack on public servants, and by extension, citizens of the U.S.
Trump’s xenophobic remarks and glorification of violence have emboldened white supremacists and other hate groups.
Trump’s offensive behavior worsened in June 2015 when he announced his candidacy for presidency.
During his speech, Trump called Mexican immigrants drug smugglers and rapists. This characterization appeared multiple times during his campaign and presidency. I find no coincidence in that hate crime rates against Latinx individuals increased in 2018 and again in 2019, according to a recent FBI report.
According to The New York Times, the perpetrator of the 2019 mass shooting in El Paso stated his goal was to kill Mexicans and warned of a “Mexican invasion” of Texas.
While Trump said he condemned violence in since-removed tweets, it is hard to ignore the fact that he has spent his presidency all but encouraging violence — a deadly concoction when mixed with his consistent racist remarks.
In May 2020, when the killing of George Floyd sparked outrage and protests against systemic racism, Trump responded on Twitter by threatening to shoot looters in Minneapolis. Twitter flagged his tweets for glorifying violence. After losing the 2020 presidential race, Trump encouraged his supporters to protest the election results by coming to Washington for a “Save America March.” In a speech, he told his supporters to “fight like hell” and peppered violent imagery throughout.
Ultimately, the march led to a rampage at the U.S. Capitol where supporters attempted to stop the confirmation of the 2020 presidential election results, killing a police officer and four protesters in the process, according to The New York Times.
Trump’s outright encouragement of violence at the Capitol is disturbing, but not surprising given the hateful rhetoric and normalization of violence that has been center stage for the past four years. On Jan. 13, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for the second time largely due to his role in encouraging the riot, a consequence I believe is long overdue.