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‘This is un-American’ - Diaspora leaders shocked at storming of Capitol building

Published:Thursday | January 7, 2021 | 12:30 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Yvette Clarke
Yvette Clarke

Jamaican leaders in the diaspora have reacted with shock and horror at seeing violent protesters storming the United States Capitol building in Washington yesterday to protest the certification of the election of Joe Biden to the presidency.

The head of the Diaspora Crime and Prevention Task Force, Dr Rupert Francis, described the behaviour as irresponsible and called for those who participated in the riots to be arrested and charged.

“Those who caused this should be held accountable. The president (Donald Trump) should be held accountable. There was no need to occupy Washington,” he said.

Francis, a former member of the Jamaica Defence Force, said that the scenes that played out in Washington render America unable to tell the world about democracy.

“America should be ashamed to call itself the United States of America because we are not united,” he said.

New York State Senator Leroy Comie, a Jamaican, said what happened in Washington was the culmination of Trump’s efforts to create chaos as he still refuses to accept his loss to Biden in the November election last year.

“This is an unparalleled destruction of our country,” Comie said, calling for the immediate arrest of the instigators even as he wondered why the Capitol was not better able to handle the situation.

New York Police Inspector in charge of the NYPD Special Victims Crime Unit, Jamaican Michael King, described the situation as “terrible,”

“It is very discouraging to see this type of behaviour, especially in this country, to see what has descended on Capitol Hill,” he said.

He said that the elections were held, and there is a winner, and what played out in Washington should not have happened.

“We don’t need this. It is unnecessary and shameful,” said King. “This is un-American.”

Some of the scenes that played out on Capitol Hill showed several congressional members with guns drawn inside the house chamber, other members on lockdown in their offices, and many protesters inside the building roaming through offices and going through desk drawers.

One woman was shot in the chest and later died. Up to press time, 15 people had been arrested while several others were injured and transported to hospital.

Former New York City Councilwoman Una Clarke also condemned the scenes that took place on Capitol Hill.

“This is un-American. Never in my life I thought I would ever see this in America,” said the Jamaican.

She said that the people who carried out the acts that took place in Washington were people who bought into the hype and misinformation spread by Trump and his enablers.

“If you cultivate a dictator, this is what you get,” she said frankly, adding that the country was now reaping what has been sown over the past four years.

People should be criminally charged

Dr Basil Wilson, former provost at the College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, labelled the events as an insurrection.

“This is appalling,” he said, adding that the incoming attorney general should conduct an investigation and people criminally charged for sedition and inciting riot.

“America, that is supposed to be the beacon of democracy, has been brought to this level by the president and his enablers,” said Wilson.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke called it an attempted coup.

“Today, the Capitol was attached by an insurgent group of domestic terrorists. As a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, I am concerned for the safety of not only my fellow elected officials, but also for the safety of our democracy,” she said. “We are in the throes of a coup because President Trump refuses to accept the will of the American people.”

She said that President Trump encouraged this day of abhorrent behaviour, choosing to issue dog whistles instead of the deliberate condemnation that would have been second nature to any of his predecessors.

She continued: “This trend of negligence is his responsibility to protect the American people is intolerable. He must resign immediately. Democracy will prevail.”

Several global leaders have condemned the incident.