WASHINGTON D.C. — It was hard to watch yet hard to look away.
The world witnessed rioters storm the capitol Wednesday as congress worked to certify votes from the Electoral College.
“I was not just horrified, I was angered by what we saw yesterday,” said Michael McDaniel, a constitutional lawyer and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of defense for homeland defense planning at the Pentagon.
Those feelings are echoed by so many who wonder how it was even possible for rioters to breach the doors, smash windows, roam the halls and even take photos and pose on the Senate floor.
“What all of America witnessed in shock and in real time was, if you were on social media anywhere they were like when are the police going to actually push these people back?” said Nadine Smith, the Executive Director of Equality Florida.
She is also perplexed by the lack of law enforcement response and the striking contrast from last June when Black Lives Matter protesters fighting racial inequality were met with tear gas and rubber bullets in Lafayette Square.
“They were there to intimidate, it was a show of force intended to say you will not do anything without getting a severe response, and yesterday what we saw was crowded overwhelm a meager presence of police,” Smith said.
“Yes, there was less violence yesterday in response to suppress these individuals than I think would have been warranted,” McDaniel said.
He says after the incident in Lafayette Square it was clear the military should not have been involved.
He believes the military, including the DC National Guard, developed a strong reluctance to be apart of anything that looks to be a protest in Washington DC. He says that could explain in-part the lag in response.
He also says of the 17-1,800 capitol officers, training doesn’t really include what happened yesterday.
“Many of them are lightly armed and they are there to act against the lone deranged individual as opposed to what we saw yesterday. We need to look at the training on that,” he said.
McDaniel also says there’s a reliance, right or wrong, upon people observing the “norms” for the capitol, a place held in high respect. He says there are several defense layers outside the capitol, some of which are metal barriers, but once people get inside there aren’t many layers of defense left.
He says that will likely be something that’s looked at in the coming days.