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A mob attack on the United States Capitol yesterday, January 6, drew responses of shock and disbelief from across the country and the world. The violent insurrection, led by QAnon and Proud Boys followers and instigated by the outbound president, left many on social media wondering: How was this allowed to happen?
Many have also expressed outrage at the glaring contrast between the lax treatment of the Trump supporters and the violent quashing of last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests. Detroit-based street artist Shawn Perkins (also known as “SP the Plug”) expressed this sentiment in a rapid response painting showing the pro-Trump goons arriving at the Capitol in a limousine and welcomed by police on a red carpet. A CNN-style news ticker reads: “Congress invites Proud Boys for Capitol tour.”
In the memeshpere, many have conjured up images of National Guard soldiers in full army fatigues preparing to confront BLM protesters in Washington last year to make a similar point about the disparity in police treatment. On TikTok, one user compared the Capitol police to a guard who was captured on CCTV footage dancing to himself on duty. “Intruders? Where?” the caption reads.
Images from the wanton insurrection have also brought attention to the carnivalesque costumes that some of the rioters were donning. A shirtless man with horns on his head, a white supremacist tattoo on his chest, and an American flag painted on his face was featured prominently in many of the press photos. The horned man was later identified as Jake Angeli, a known Trump supporter from Arizona who sometimes referred to himself as the “QAnon Shaman.”
According to Nick Martin, an editor at the Informant, Angeli was once “a small-time actor, voice over artist, and singer.”
On the internet, the QAnon fanatic was compared in style to the British singer Jay Kay, the frontman of the band Jamiroquai, on account of his furry headgear. The pop singer later clarified on Twitter that he had no involvement in the mob attack.
Another widely circulated image showed a rioter carrying away a podium while waving to the cameras with a grin on his face. Politico’s chief Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza shared a photo of the man, captioning it with a “Via Getty” image credit, but some internet users hilariously mistook the man’s name for that of the well-known photography agency. “What kind of name is via Getty?” one Twitter user innocently asked, drawing mocking responses. Lizza had to clarify later that the man in the picture is not actually named “Via Getty.”
Meanwhile, the instigator-in-chief, Donald Trump, was banned from several social media platforms. Twitter suspended his account for 12 hours, and Facebook blocked it through the end of his term on January 20, with Snapchat and YouTube taking similar measures.
Jokes aside, Tik Tok user @jinandjuice pointed to some troubling facts related to the necessary cleanup of the ransacked federal offices. The user, named Jessica, said that broken furniture in Congress will likely be replaced by the government-owned corporation UNICOR, which employs incarcerated people. According to the company’s website, the inmates typically earn between 23¢ to $1.15 per hour. “So, how the heck do you manufacture and deliver furniture in a reasonable time during a pandemic?” the Tik Tok user asks, and answers: “Oh, you just force incarcerated people to risk their lives.”
And finally, it seems so far that our hopes for a calmer year after a catastrophic 2020 were shattered yesterday. “Well, it was a solid 5 days,” a widespread GIF says. “Here’s to 2022,” it continues, showing different celebrities raising a toast.