Big Country officials reflect on the one year anniversary of Capitol riots

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ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Thursday marked the one year anniversary of what began as a peaceful protest, and quickly escalated into hundreds storming the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Texas Representative Jodey Arringon (R- Texas, 19th District) and McMurry University Professor of Political Science, Dr. Paul Fabrizio spoke out on their memories of that day.

“As a country, we prided ourselves on a peaceful government, and peaceful transition between governments. A year ago today, that transition was not peaceful. That tradition broke apart,” Dr. Fabrizio explained.

Rioters loyal to then-President Donald Trump outside of U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. Even as the first of the more than 500 federal Capitol riot defendants have begun to plead guilty, scores of suspects remain unidentified, reflecting the massive scale of the Justice Department’s investigation and the grueling work authorities still face to track everyone down. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Fabrizio was not in attendance at the Capitol building during riots, but recalled the day vividly.

“It was as close to a coup, and I use that word deliberately,” Dr. Fabrizio said. “As close to a coup as we’ve had in American history.”

However, Representative Arrington was inside while hundreds busted into the Capitol, something he could only describe as “lawless.”

Texas State Directory: U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Jodey C. Arrington (R- Texas, 19th District)

“It was disconcerting for everybody there, because no one knew if there was an intent to do harm, and if people were armed,” Rep. Arrington recalled.

Since the event, Rep. Arrington has turned his attention elsewhere, by condemning those who broke in, and adding that they deserved to be punished. He said what started out as protest was completely overblown, exaggerated and politicized.

Rep. Arrington said the actions of those on that day should be punished, but should not be any politician’s fault.

“People who commit crimes are responsible for those crimes, and it’s a slippery slope in terms of violating people’s freedom of speech to try to blame politicians and their rhetoric for crimes committed,” Rep. Arrington said. “If that’s the case, you’d probably have to throw everybody in Congress in jail, because of the inflammatory rhetoric that is used.” 

Rep. Arrington pointed the blame towards an ever-growing political divide hitting the United States; a divide of which Dr. Fabrizio explained has since become toxic.

“It’s a poisoned atmosphere. I hate to use those words, but I think its an accurate description of what’s taking place,” Dr. Fabrizio described.

Instead of the political parties setting aside their differences, Dr. Fabrizio said they consistently undermined one another. In doing so, they would focus on tearing one party down, in lieu of focusing on the needs of the people.

“Today, it’s clearly a party difference. And that party difference is shaping how people interpret what took place,” Dr. Fabrizio added.

Fabrizio said the growing tensions could potentially create one of the greatest, most violent electoral political divisions in modern-American history.

But the question that remains unanswered is, will this become a trend?

“That’s the real concern; will they be able to take place, or will people, if they don’t like the results, you know, turn violent. And that’s the fear, because that is a real possibility, because there is an air of violence,” Dr. Fabrizio advised.

While much of the focus is centered around political outcry, an often overlooked detail is the nearly 140 law enforcement officers injured during the riots.

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