Moving Beyond The U.S. Capitol Riots
January 6, 2021. This day will definitely go down in history. I remember sitting downstairs in front of the building that houses my Pediatric clinic. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been performing visits for our sick patients through our drive-up clinic in front of the building every afternoon. I thought this Wednesday would be like any other Wednesday afternoon. I did not even realize there was a “Save America March” planned in Washington that day.
But, I quickly learned.
In my relatively short lifetime, I remember watching several major tragedies unfold. I watched the aftermath of the school shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Parkland. I sat in sheer horror, watching the events of 9/11 unfold. Watching the U.S. Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, ranks right up there as one horrifying event I will never forget.
So many emotions ran through my head that day. I watched the horror on the faces of our members of Congress – the very people we elected to represent us. If it was not for our votes, they would not have been in that building that day. This attack on our representatives was truly an attack on all of us. It was an attack on America.
Our nation was truly turning on itself.
I sat back and watched as privileged members of our society marched on and destroyed the most sacred grounds of our nation. These people were prepared for battle. They were prepared to destroy property, lives, and anything they could get their hands on.
“As soon as they hit the fence line, the fight was on. Violent confrontations from the start. They came with riot helmets, gas masks, shields, pepper spray, fireworks, climbing gear — climbing gear! — explosives, metal pipes, baseball bats. I have never seen anything like it in 30 years of events in Washington.” — Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund
As a woman of color, I sat in disbelief. In my mind, I replayed images from the Black Lives Matter protests only a few months earlier. At that time, people took to the streets to protest the senseless loss of black lives at the hands of the police. Those protests were justified. Yet, they were ridiculed and halted by law enforcement on so many levels.
In contrast, the participants in the U.S. Capitol insurrection were fighting the results of a fair and valid election. Their protests were based on unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Yet, this group of extremists was able to fight its way onto restricted territory, to cause destruction of a national landmark, and to threaten the lives of our elected officials. I cannot even begin to imagine what the outcome would have been had this crowd looked “different” – if the majority looked like me.
As a physician, I was especially angered as I watched the Capitol insurrection unfold. After working as a physician on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past eleven months, it angered me to see such a large group of Americans with no regard for the pandemic. The protestors were not wearing masks. The protestors were not at all adhering to social distancing guidelines. It angered me that I put my health – and the health of my family – on the line every single day. Yet, the participants in this insurrection made it clear that they do not believe in the seriousness of this pandemic. They also do not believe in the work that we, as physicians, undertake every single day. Instead of fighting the results of a fair election, why not focus on the pandemic that has taken hundreds of thousands of American lives?
There are more important causes to fight for.
As an American, I watched the complete disrespect for our country: the complete disrespect for the law, our history, and everything our country stands for. I saw the clear division that exists in our nation, and the great need for change. It was truly an attack on democracy.
This insurrection made it clear that we need to come together as a nation. This is not a political party issue. This is an American issue. We all need to come together to truly “Save America.” That’s the only way we can start to make any true progress forward. We are fighting so many issues
, that it is impossible to be successful on any one of them if this division continues. Our nation needs to move forward as one. We need to leave hatred, racism, distrust, and false information behind. Even though we may all have different perspectives and differing opinions, it is important to focus on one common goal: healing our nation. We need a shift in our nation. And we need it now.
Petra McEwan, MD, FAAP, IBCLC is a practicing Pediatrician and Lactation Consultant in South Florida, where she lives with her husband and five kids. She is also a Women in White Coats Fellow. Her website is https://www.wifeymommydoc.com, and she can be followed on Instagram @wifeymommydoc.