No One is Coming to Rescue Us: The Lesson of January 6th

Tributes to Officer Brian Sicknick at the Peace Monument
Tributes to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was killed by the Trump mob on January 6th.

Watching a Trump mob attack my city on January 6th destroyed any remaining faith I had in American institutions, radicalized me and turned me into Red Bike Guy.

January 6th

Everyone in DC knew that something terrible was about to occur.

When Trump supporters rallied in the city in November and December 2020, they had run amok, attacking innocent people that believed were antifa and vandalizing black churches in the city.

On January 6th, Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an order telling people to stay away from downtown, for violence was expected. All the businesses downtown closed – boards covered the buildings, turning the streets dark and ominous at night.

Disgracefully, hotels remained open as greedy corporations used the insurrection as a chance to grab a cheap buck.

On the morning of the 6th, I saw Trump supporters pour out of their hotels and march downtown. They came to fight. Men were kitted out in flack jackets, helmets, bear spray, clubs, tasers and other weaponry. They hooted and hollered as they called for another 1776.

Individually, they looked like your neighbor. Hell, they could be your neighbor. This was a white, middle-class riot. Who else could afford to go to DC in the middle of the week?

But clad in Trump gear, and one of thousands marching for the wannabe dictator, they felt empowered. They had come to fight for Trump.

We were naive. “Stop the Steal” was the name of the rally on the Ellipse. How else were you going to stop the steal without stopping Congress from certifying the vote? Disrupting Congress – a polite euphemism for murder -was the plan all along.

I was naive. While Trump supporters had posted online about storming the Capitol, and even shared maps of the tunnels under the building, the unthinkable couldn’t occur. Our vast security state was prepared. Our legislators, even the Republican ones, would do the right thing. Violence and chaos wasn’t the American Way.

I watched in disbelief as the mob I had seen in my neighborhood stormed their way into the Capitol, stopping the certification of the vote, and disenfranchising millions of Americans.

The Capitol Police had guns; I had seen them with AR-15s on the Capitol steps. They had shooed me away on occasion when I was biking by.

But on January 6th, they didn’t use them (with one brave exception).

“Shoot them!” I screamed, watching the coverage. All those years I had followed Capitol Police instructions and here was a white mob breaking windows and assaulting officers with no response at all.

It took hours but the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the DC National Guard restored order. Washington, DC, rescued democracy on January 6th.

The coup plotters hadn’t planned on this. It was a close-run thing. The mob had come within feet of Vice President Pence, who they planned to hang.

I watched the Trump mob return. They were proud of what they had done, celebrating their great accomplishment: they fought for Trump! That night, they partied in their hotels. It was the most disgusting thing I had ever witnessed.

January 7th

Even the next day, and seeing the terrible media coverage of the event, they were still proud and running around the city in SUVs bedecked with Trump flags.

I confronted some of them outside the Mason & Rook Hotel. I said that they were a fucking disgrace. One of them shoved me with a huge flag pole that he was carrying (they love using flag poles as weapons). Unhurt, I crossed the street, called the cops and jawed back and forth with the group as they waited for the valet to bring up their car.

By the time the police arrived, they were gone – after promising that they would return with their guns. The MPD went inside to look at the security camera footage while I waited in the lobby.

A curious, post-adrenaline calm came over me as I watched families in MAGA gear check out of the hotel, grab coffee and chitchat.

I suddenly understood why photos of hangings often look like carnivals: because they were. It wasn’t a shameful event for the community; it was a party, a chance for everyone to come together in communal hate and then celebrate their achievement.

These people milling about in the lobby, checking their phones and chowing down on croissants, were going back to their middle-class lives with no consequences at all.

The MPD officer returned. The security camera footage was blocked by a giant truck parked in front of the hotel. She gave me a case number and left.

No One is Coming

Democrats like to talk about how the long arc of history bends toward justice. Be patient and have faith in the goodness of American hearts to deliver democracy.

But justice isn’t inevitable, as even most casual reader of history can tell you.

The long arc of history doesn’t bend on its own; it is bent by all of us and our individual choices.

I mocked the Patriot Front as Red Bike Guy because I was incensed at what Trump mobs did to my city on January 6th. Since then, I’ve used my skills as a writer, photographer and digital shitposter to monitor and disrupt fascist fail groups like the 1776 Restoration Movement and the traitorous J6 supporters of Freedom Corner.

The January 6th coup attempt nearly succeeded. If Trump had thought to bring MPD in on the plot, it would’ve. He won’t make that mistake again.

Don’t count on the Supreme Court or brave state legislators to prevent the return of Donald Trump.

No one is coming.

We’re going to have to save ourselves.

What You Can Do

How do we do that? Here are three things that you can do:

  1. Vote for Biden. He is the only candidate who promises to respect the election results. A vote for anyone else is a vote for a never-ending Trump family dictatorship in the North Korean style. Failing to vote is throwing your rights away through inaction.
  2. Fight the Big Lie. Republicans want to turn Ashli Babbitt into a martyr and proclaim January 6th as Patriots Day. Wrapping themselves in the flag, they claim that they had a right to storm the Capitol. But we all saw what happened. Stop people when they speak revisionist nonsense.
  3. Expel Trumpkins from Your Life. Why would you be friends with someone who wants to take away your right to vote? If the Trump mob had succeeded on January 6th, the votes of millions of Americans would’ve been discarded. Trump voters want him to be dictator – what do you think that will mean for you? Why would you associate with someone who wants to turn you into a second-class citizen? Send a message by ostracizing Trump supporters.

January 6th will not be forgotten. We will not move on. The day was a warning that democracy is far more fragile than we believed. We must fight to protect it.

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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