Daily Journal

Steve DePasquale, Kankakee Community College history professor, said the turn of events in Washington, D.C., Wednesday was unprecedented in the nation’s history.

Citizens have protested en masse on Capitol Hill, but swarms of hundreds storming the Capitol was a first.

Until Wednesday, the Capitol building had not been overrun since the British attacked and burned it in 1814 during the War of 1812.

In 1954, Puerto Rican Nationalists fired shots in the House chamber during a full floor debate. However, in the 1954 incident, only a few people entered the building.

“It’s really just an incredibly sad day,” DePasquale said. “These protestors interrupted a legal, Constitutional session of Congress doing what it had every right to be doing.”

DePasquale said the unwillingness to accept election results after President Donald Trump’s claims of fraud were proven false is “mind boggling” and “scary.”

“We need to take a good, hard look at ourselves,” DePasquale said. “This is not who we are supposed to be.”

Congress members who planned to contest the certification of Biden’s win “threw gas on the fire” that was started by Trump’s refusal to accept his loss, DePasquale said.

“If we get to the point where we don’t accept elections, I don’t know where we go,” he said. “Is everything now just going to be a coup? Whoever can gain control of the military is in charge? We’re going to look like a banana republic. It’s very alarming. I never thought I’d see anything like this.”

Jim Paul, president of the Bourbonnais Grove Historical Society and a retired KCC history and philosophy professor, said he was saddened but not surprised to see the “horrible chain of events” unfold Wednesday.

Trump’s confrontational rhetoric and acceptance of conspiracy theories throughout his presidency were predictors that something like this could happen, he said.

“Trump has not been in touch with reality since the election,” Paul said. “[On Wednesday] he incited individuals in Washington who had come to protest to do something, and that was what they did. I’m sorry to see it come this far.”

Paul said the situation has demonstrated the fragility of democracy, which many take for granted.

“The Capitol is a symbol of our democracy, our hope, our future, everything we hold near and dear to us as United States citizens. It’s an icon.”

Insurgent forces storming the Capitol and endangering those within must be stopped to preserve democracy, Paul added.

“This confrontation today will be a lesson for us to learn from,” Paul said. “This is the beginning of how far it can go, and we don’t want it to go any further.”

Reporter

Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools.