On Jan. 6, Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building in Washington D.C. According to the New York Times, the insurrection resulted in the death of five people. Protests throughout the nation’s capital that day aimed to disrupt a vote to certify the election of Joe Biden as the 46th president.
2020 was no stranger to violence in the name of injustice. However, it is the element of truth that sets the Capitol riot apart from last year’s racial protests.
The Black Lives Matter uprisings served as an outcry for voices unheard by the justice system over decades of law enforcement discrimination and abuse in Black communities.
However, the violent raid of Congress’s chambers attempted to interrupt the democratic process over claims of election fraud with no factual basis according to the New York Times.
One daunting question haunts the minds of Americans: when will it happen again? In this unstable political atmosphere, how will our school balance the demands of justice and peace?
According to the university’s Code of Community Standards, “students are prohibited from engaging in behavior that disrupts or interferes with the orderly functioning of the University.” While the code also states that these standards are to be applied without regard towards specific “perspectives or positions,” is this a sustainable policy?
During the Trump presidency, a dangerous mixture of extremist beliefs combined with conspiracy theories, led to the formation of QAnon. This loose ideology among conservatives believed a judgement day at the hands of the president would erase corruption from the federal government.
According to USA Today, a multitude of QAnon theories have been debunked. Despite a lack of evidence, these beliefs cultivated the desperation felt by those storming the Capitol.
Considering the events of Jan. 6, the Code of Community Standards should be applied with regard towards specific perspectives and positions when extremism is involved.
Following the Capitol riot, various social media companies took swift action. Twitter, Reddit and others banned Trump from their platforms. Some even shut down entire communities oriented towards the discussion of extremist conservative ideologies such as QAnon.
Is Salisbury University doing its part to prevent violence based on conspiracies, extremism and lies from sparking on campus? If the worst happens, will SU hold instigators accountable?
The Flyer reached out to the Democrat and Republican clubs on campus regarding their thoughts on measures being taken to prevent peaceful activism from becoming chaos.
Democrat president Fathima Rifkey said her club has “not discussed any measures to prevent violence omitting from political riots.” Instead, she believes action should be taken by the Student Government Association or the administration.
The Republican club has not responded to The Flyer’s inquiries.
Chief Edwin Lashley of SU’s Police Department was contacted regarding the school’s security response to suspicious online activity related to political violence.
The response towards suspicious activity includes a gathering of intelligence from various agencies. These include the US Department of Homeland Security, MD State Police and Eastern Shore Criminal Intelligence System. In addition, the school’s intelligence officer examines information gathered from tips, social media and other sources.
The SU Police Department was also granted conditional access to specific information regarding the inauguration of President Biden.
Students should be involved in activism at SU. When injustice rises, the voices of those who suffer must rise to meet it. Disruption of the status quo is how change is manifested when the truth is ignored.
However, the university must take steps to prevent violence from those who wish to sabotage peace without the basis of truth on their side.
By JACOB BEAVER
Photo by Jacob Beaver.