At least five north Texas residents charged, investigations continue
Sixty three people have been arrested in Texas since protesters banded together around the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 to protest the Nov. 3, 2020 presidential election’s results.
According to the Department of Justice website, over 725 people have been arrested due to their involvement in the insurrection. The majority of those arrested in Texas, which is only second after Florida for the number of arrests. Of the people arrested in Texas, most of them were residents of the North Texas area.
“I don’t think it is socially acceptable to storm the Capitol,” sophomore Olivia Marquez, who is passionate about this topic, said. “It’s acceptable to be upset about how elections went because that is important to people, but when it comes to harming people and threatening people’s lives, I don’t think that is appropriate.”
Jan. 6 was another example of social media being used to connect people with the same beliefs to fight for change that they deem necessary. Former President Donald Trump supporters connected via social media and were able to organize the rally. Some rioters used social media to glorify their actions and others used it to spread misinformation.
“Without social media it would be a lot harder to get these types of events to occur,” senior James Wharton said. “I wouldn’t say that social media is at fault, the people are at fault, but social media certainly helped information spread faster than it would have without it.”
According to the Texas Tribune, Troy Smocks, a 58 year-old-man from Dallas, was one of the rioters. He has had a long history of criminal offenses including a 34-year sentence for creating a false identity and for commiting bank fraud. He added to the criminal offenses by making threats towards Congress and also threatened to return to the Capitol on Jan. 19, 2020, the day of the presidential inauguration, with more weapons. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.
Other Texans arrested include two East Texas men, Ryan Nicholas and Alex Harkrider, who appeared in a multitude of photos shared on social media. The FBI was able to identify the two men and they are now in jail awaiting trial. Law enforcement has been able to recognize many of the rioters from public posts, and now prosecutors are using these social media posts to hold these rioters accountable.
“I definitely think social media plays a role in [what] we are doing now in a way that it never has before, but I still think individuals are responsible for themselves and their actions,” upper school Rev. Tim Kennedy said. “I think we still have a responsibility to seek out the truth after hearing a rumor or story. Truth is something that is not different points of view, it is what actually happened. You end up with things like Jan. 6 when you have people who are not willing to not actually study and take things apart and understand them and then come up with logical conclusions.”
This past January marked a year since these events occurred and people are still split on whether or not the actions that transpired at the U.S. capital were socially acceptable or not. These events included damaging private property, stealing goods and threatening law enforcement. On the anniversary of the insurrection, the Senate held a meeting where President Joe Biden commented on the events that occurred. Many politicians, like Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney from Wyoming, attended the meeting as the vice chair of the House Select Committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 attack. Her father, Dick Cheney, who was the vice president to former President George W. Bush, went to support his daughter and to commemorate the day.
Texas congressman Ted Cruz was one of many Republicans who believed that there was voter fraud in the 2020 elections. Right after the riots took place he immediately said that it was a ‘terrorist attack,’ but a year later he corrected himself and said that he had misspoken. He apologized for his use of the word ‘terrorist’ and said that he was commenting on people who attacked policemen and not on the rioters at the Capitol. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott condemned the events that took place at the Capitol, but did not blame former President Donald Trump.
“I think the lack of Republicans attending the Senate meeting has to do with Trump because he is such a polarizing figure,” Marquez said. “I feel like a lot of people are scared to go against [Trump] because he has so many supporters.”
According to the Public Broadcasting Service News organization, 85 percent of registered voters believe America is divided in their values. Americans now fear holidays and family gatherings due to the fact that people have such split opinions on politics. According to a Feb. XX poll of _ upper school students, __ percent of student’s families do not discuss politics during family gatherings.
“I definitely think that our society is being torn apart by politics, especially over the holidays,” Marquez said. “For instance, in our family we had to make a rule to not bring up politics because it is just so bad and everyone has such strong opinions, [it can get] hostile.”
Posts about politics and world news are still filling up people’s social media pages. There has been much controversy around whether or not people should be able to post about their political beliefs. In Sept. 2021, the Texas government fixed House Bill 20 to make it illegal for social media corporations to remove users and their posts just because the people share their political points of view. According to the Pew Research Center, around 71 percent of people now get some portion of their news input from social media platforms. With so much information being thrown out at the public, it is easy for people to trust false information as it was posted by someone who seems reliable.
“People believe what they want to believe and for example a lot of people want to avoid the anniversary of the Capitol riots,” Wharton said. “People sometimes want to avoid the facts [because] they have a strong belief that they want to fulfill, so they will listen to false facts. With the Capitol riots people had different responses and reasons for justifying the events. People want to believe they are right and they mold the facts to support their opinion as opposed to basing their opinions off of the facts.”
Throughout history there have always been different opinions and views about how America should be run, and the majority of the time society has been able to resolve differences through compromise. For example, segregation between whites and blacks and the women’s suffrage movement on whether women should or not women should have the right to vote. Even a year after the riots many Americans still refuse to accept the results of the election. On the anniversary of the riots some Texans still refused to back down. They hung posters on freeway passes that read “Stand up Before Your Freedom is Silenced” and “There is Still Hope of Trump Taking Over.”
These Texans refuse to back down from their cause and to come to terms with the fact that Joe Biden won the election. Many are still wanting change to be made. One of the rioters, Mark Middleton who faced various different charges including assaulting an officer and acts of physical violence within the Capitol grounds, is now running for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives
People like Rev. Kennedy believe that people are becoming less and less willing to compromise, which can be attributed to the current politics and tension in America.
“If you go back and read stuff from the beginning of our country, people have had very strong disagreements for a long time, but what is new is the demonization,” Kennedy said. “Just because someone thinks the opposite of this or that [it] doesn’t mean we should kill each other over having different views. Part of political science and government is being able to work together. People aren’t going to get one hundred percent of what they want so they need to be able to compromise, but today people are wanting all or nothing and that is just not how a society can function.”