United States


Message to Readers

I got some confusion so I'd just like to clarify: This piece is NOT normalizing or talking down the events that happened. The purpose was to help educate and to do that, I like to keep a friendly-serious tone, as it just seems more fun to read. I was careful trying not to put biases in from either side, but that doesn't mean I have my own. I just wanted to make a piece for everyone to be able to share their views on. I hope that clarifies any confusion!

Also ughhhh the typosssss

Things on Trial (Updated with more!)

January 25, 2021


It was right that it happened. The election was stolen and the evidence is clear. If no one else will do something about it, then I guess we will. Patriots. Yeah, we’re patriots.”  

Two weeks ago, there was a siege.

“As a Republican, I am appalled I ever supported this man.”

The Capitol Building was under attack by so-called “Patriots,” armed citizens of our own United States, demanding election results be turned from Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris to Donald Trump and Michael Pence.

“I saw it coming. We all saw it coming. He’s been awful and everyone knew there would be {things} like this if he lost.”

As news reports filed in and Americans around the country watched their televisions in horror, many were left with only a few questions. How? Why? Is this legal? And the question no one could seem to answer: how can we make this stop?

My name is Riley. I am a political enthusiast and future Weekend Update writer and lawyer, and I have made it my duty to answer your questions surrounding the past two weeks. This is the United States on national trial.

*With the brevity of the events of the past two weeks, I feel it necessary to add a disclaimer: Take this for what it is. It's maybe 20 hours worth of research done by a seventeen year old. This piece is not meant to replace any news sources you might read to educate yourself. I am not a journalist nor will I claim to have the knowledge and skill of one. This piece is simply to assist education, and I recommend going to sites such as ABC, NBC, CNN, or whatever other legitimate source you'd like to further your knowledge.*

Part One: A Brief Education 

To level out everyone’s understanding and make sure we’re all on the same playing field, let’s start with three basic definitions and some comparisons.

A domestic terrorist is a person or group of people committing violent, illegal acts within their own country to help further an agenda or goal.

A peaceful protest is the act of trying to achieve a goal through symbolic protests, civil disobedience, economic or political noncooperation, among other methods, while maintaining non-violence.

A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized by a group lashing out in a violent public disturbance against authority, property, or people. Riots typically involve destruction of public and/or private property.

What is the difference between a riot and a protest?
A protest is an organized, respectful event. Protests are used to demonstrate something (often some sort of disagreement or injustice being faced) and bring it to light. While it is true that protests can get out of hand, they are generally not violent displays, nor are they disturbing or destructive. A riot, however, is loud, disturbing, and destructive. Like protests, riots are used to demonstrate, but the approach is forceful, violent, and oftentimes dangerous to be around due to the nature of the acts. 

Now, it is our right under the first amendment to be able to protest peacefully and even petition the government if deemed necessary. A couple ways that can be done include having Americans sign a petition to be brought before Congress or assembling together to peacefully demonstrate disagreement, often in DC streets near the Capitol. Think of events like the yearly Women's March, LGBTQ+ rights marches, and the March of Dimes. 

We do NOT have the right to riot. When protests get out of hand and can be seen going into riot territory, action is taken by law enforcement of the area. This can include tear gas, blockading streets, incarcerating offenders, and, unfortunately sometimes violence.

So what happened on January 6th, then?
Depending on your news source, you’ll see all three names being tossed around, often in the same article. So what happened?

Well, let’s examine the facts.

This was a planned event, much like a protest would be. However, the circumstances raise questions. The numbers have been counted and recounted. Nothing can change that. The United States Supreme Court  is secure and confident that Biden won this election in fairness. Trump’s supporters can’t change that, and if they could, one of his powerful political allies or lawyers would have already.

It has been speculated that Trump supporters never wanted a peaceful protest. I obviously can’t comment on the legitimacy of that statement. However, as people waving Trump flags and sporting MAGA hats and shirts swarmed the Capitol, things began to get crazy: screaming, violence, climbing up the sides of the Capitol were all part of the events. By definition, this was a riot.

We’re not finished, though.

A few rioters were able to make their way past security into the building. At this point, workers were taken to safe rooms away from the rioters, and Mike Pence, who had been presiding over a Congress session, had to be taken out of the building due to the rioters chants of “Hang Pence” because of his concession. (Now is the time to note the guillotine built for Pence in Arizona.) Inside the Capitol, rioters...well, rioted. They trashed offices, ruined documents, broke furniture, windows, and set fires. A woman was shot by law enforcement and later died, and injuries were prevalent, including one man who fell off the side of the building.

This is where the line gets blurry in the news. Domestic terrorism, or just a crazy riot? Let’s see. Domestic terrorism, like we determined above, is a group of people committing violent (check!), illegal (check!) acts within their own country (I’m gonna take an educated guess here and say check) to further an agenda or goal (both, in this case. Check!) 

So, we’re all the people there terrorists?
Hm. Lots to unpack there, huh? Let’s start small. Do I think some of them are? Definitely. I don’t agree with anything that went on today in the Capitol, and I am positive that, literally by definition, terroristic acts occurred. No matter what side you’re on, you have to see this. 

I can't account for the motives of all people there. I can't say whether or not their intentions were good going into the event. Every person had a choice to turn into a rioter and stay. So, while I can not look at each person’s actions and factually call them a terrorist, they did all break the law. 

(At present, there is no federal law against domestic terrorism. After this event, however, lawmakers and scholars are beginning to push for one.)

Part Two: The Views

You can’t have a trial without a case--we have that. But another key ingredient here is views. Why? Well, we need to understand what the people who stormed the Capitol may have been thinking at the time. This may begin to shed light into what happened.

Unfortunately, I could not reach anyone from the siege for comment. I do have, however, a young writer from this very site. We were a bit infamous for not always getting along (or getting along at all, frankly) about politics  in the past, but recently we were able to put aside our different beliefs and make nice. This young writer is a strong conservative individual, even attending a small “Stop the Steal” rally in their own hometown on the day of the events.

For the sake of their privacy, I will not be sharing any of their account information, but they gave this testimony for use:

"I think it is only appropriate for me to address the situation of our nation just as I did at the onset of the Corona virus and during the unrest that took place this summer.

I think you know my feelings on most of the issues. Most of you know I voted for Donald Trump and would vote for him again if I had the chance. And, like many other millions of Americans, we can see with our own eyes and add with our own arithmetic that something doesn’t add up with the election.

And when you couple that with the unrest, violence, religious discrimination, draconian lockdowns and removal of basic freedoms that our country has experienced for the last nine months, then I can sympathize with the frustration that our nation has seen the past few weeks.

Do I agree with what happened at he Capital Building last week? No I do not. Nor did I agree with what took and is still currently taking place in Portland, Chicago, Seattle, Washington DC, Atlanta, Kenosha and many other major cities in America earlier last year.

When something is wrong, we need to call it wrong. When something is evil, we need to call it evil. But I’m afraid that red blooded Americans can only be told to sit down and shut up for so long before they do something stupid.
And so I’m afraid that our country is changing right before our eyes. As Christians, we believe that there is good and there is evil, and we should not confuse the two. Isaiah 5:20 says Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness. We are seeing that sentiment play out in real time.

And so I am not afraid. I am not fearful. When Joe Biden takes office and begin to appoint leftist cabinet member after leftist cabinet member, when socialists continue to climb the ranks of our democracy and when a nation-wide mandatory stay at home lockdown and wear your masks order goes into effect, the church will still be the church. We will still gather. Every single Sunday. Rain or shine. Mask or no mask. Legal or not legal.

Because the church of Jesus Christ is bigger than Joe Biden or Kamala Harris. It is bigger than Draconian lockdowns and Socialists policies. It is bigger than you or me. Christ will build His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.
And so we will pray for our nation. We will pray for the citizens. And we will pray that God will, despite the efforts to remove God, that continue to bless America.” 

That is what my dad said to the congregation on Sunday. My family thinks any political violence is not ok. We would always rather have a peaceful solution than violence. As such, we also believe the BLM riots are not ok, as you know. Whether it be people sieging the Capitol or burning down businesses, we disprove of both. My family also believes, based on verifiable sources, that Antifa was involved in what happened at the Capitol. My family also believes it is hypocritical to condemn what happened at the Capitol but encourage and praise the BLM riots. We have been told many times that we are not supposed to talk about politics, and many people have posted that Christians should not talk about politics (meaning to stop talking about BLM, CRT, and the riots), and many people have completely ignored the BLM riots, but are openly condemning the siege. We think that is wrong. If there is a standard, all people should be subject to it. That's my family's beliefs.

We thank this young writer for their time and testimony.

And to level it out, I'd like to give a view from the other side, from another young writer on the site. Again, this writer's privacy will be protected, and we thank them for their time and testimony.

I was in class when the rioting started. The teachers seemed weird but zoom class is always weird so I didn't think anything of it. But then I went upstairs and my mom had the tv on and I was like, "whoa. This is insane."

I'm super liberal. My family is moderate-conservative. They voted for Trump in 2016 because they didn't agree with Hillary, but they didn't vote this year because the lines were 5 hours long and my siblings are too little to leave like that, even with me. But I could even see in my mom's eyes Trump was unredeemable. It didn't matter what he said or did next, this was not okay.

The election was a mess. I'll say that. At first, fraud...was a maybe. Unlikely, yes, but maybe. But Trump got his recounts and his trials. There is no possible way Biden didn't win. It just is a fact. And I mean, if I'm being real I didn't expect Trump to concede. But there is a difference between not conceding and inciting violence in the country you are supposed to be leading.

We all saw the same thing. We also saw the kind of people who were there. I saw the other day a picture of a group of men in pro-H*tler hoodies, and that made me feel sick. Trump is past any sort of legitimate case, and he is calling his followers to go in and do evil acts or him. He even said in his speech, "I love you" to the people at the Capitol. Rather than condemning the violence that was tearing apart the country and actually placing us in a vulnerable position to be attacked, he was caring only for himself. Other countries could have looked at us in that moment and chosen to attack. If the government doesn't have a hold on its citizens, then how can we fight back?

There is no excuse for what happened. There is none. I don't think we can place blame on Antifa or the Proud Boys or anything like that now. This isn't a conspiracy, it really happened. And There were ten thousand people there. It was majority real, true citizens, who have fallen for the gospel of a dangerous leader. And what's scary is they still show no remorse and talks of it happening again are in full swing.

This country needs to heal, whether it likes it or not. And Trump is pushing us back with supporting violent acts like this and calling them "patriotic."  Patriotism is supposed to be vivacious support of one's country. Democracy is democracy whether you like it or not. Patriotism is supporting the democracy even if it isn't what you wanted, and it certainly isn't patriotic to mob, steal, break, or try and hurt others working hard for your well being in the country to change things.

Part Three: So, What's the Verdict?

I've played lawyer up until now, but I can't play a whole jury. I can't make a final decision on something so divided already. We can't decide for anyone but ourselves.

I've done my research. I have my opinion formed, and I'm sure if you're familiar with my work it won't surprise any of you. 

It's your turn now.

So, what's the verdict?
courtroom adjourned.


See History

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  • FastOceanLove

    Ok, um wow! I will say this with pride, I am a strong supporter of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, and I was scared at what happened at the Capitol. I live in Manhattan so I wasn't close but I was surfing when it happened and all these people on the shore went on there phones and started talking really loud and someone who was surfing got hold of a phone and showed me, and I literally ran back to my house. This is a really well thought out piece though, well done! You seem like an amazing writer and I'd love for you to check out some of my own pieces if you get a chance, it would mean a lot and everyone else on here feel free as well! After reading this I might write something myself, although more directed on Kamala Harris and the female power she demonstrated, with your credit of course. :) Btw sorry this is long :)

    about 1 month ago
  • em wilder

    woah. you've done it again poetri riley! i've been off wtw for about a week, catching up on schoolwork and urging my brain to write something, anything (yay writer's block) . i just clicked on today because i had some free time... so glad i came across this! like all your other informational pieces, this is written with facts and pretty through. mostly keeping yourself out of it must have been hard, but i admire you for that. really interesting reading the statements of the writers that consented to being included in your piece... i kinda live in a bubble and so this reminded me that there are all kinds of people in the world and that conflict can divide so many people. i'm going to keep my ideas and opinions to myself but thank you for collecting info and writing this.

    about 1 month ago