‘I did not think we could sink any lower’: LA doctor and other Angelenos react to US Capitol insurrection

Written by Danielle Chiriguayo and Amy Ta

Trump supporters gathered in downtown Los Angeles to protest the certification of President-elect Joe Biden, January 6, 2021. Photo by Ted Soqui for KCRW.

The insurrection at the US Capitol by pro-Trump extremists was shocking and disturbing. While lawmakers certified November election results, the Capitol was breached for the first time since the War of 1812.

Insurgents smashed windows and roamed the halls of Congress. Elected officials received gas masks and were evacuated. Five people died and dozens of others were injured. 

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to grip the nation, and millions of Americans are unemployed due to a fractured economy. 

It was a lot to process, so KCRW asked Angelenos how they were feeling about the unprecedented events. 

Shock, fear, and a “twisted democracy” 

Highland Park resident Valerie Taylor Stoner was at work when she first caught wind of what happened. Like many, she was shocked.

“Our democracy has become so twisted as to invalidate the very thing it was created to protect: its people and its freedoms.”

Long Beach resident Mark Willis echoed Stoner’s concerns: “I’m scared that our beloved democracy is so close to being extinguished from this planet.” 

One KCRW audience member (who wanted to stay anonymous) said the  events were “another in a litany of superbly surreal days, and so hard to absorb the reality of what actually happened.”

COVID was already a “war zone.” Now this? 

Physician Anna Granat was working at her LA hospital when she and her staff learned of the insurrection.

“My hospital already feels like a war zone. COVID is already ravaging our country. I did not think we could sink any lower,” she says.

She said after working throughout the pandemic, she felt outraged and tired. “Seeing the events unfold on the news yesterday was just so disgusting, so disheartening and just appalling in light of what we should be doing and where our resources and our attention should be going.”

No surprise for some Angelenos

L.J. Williamson said the incident reminded her of her stepfather’s death from cancer. It was tragic and difficult, but not unexpected. She compared it to swimming in the deep of a pool.

“We’ve been swimming towards this deep end for a while now, with Trump's apologists allowing this to happen, shifting blame or denying that this is what his rhetoric has pointed people toward. But when he says go to the Capitol and be wild, no one should be surprised when something wild happens at the Capitol.”

Cari Golden said, “It feels like an inevitable end to four years of disinformation and involuntary psychological warfare and incitement from the President. It's a sad day for America, but not a surprising one.”

The double standard in policing

Stoner said the siege on the U.S. Capitol was an example of the double standard in how police respond to a large group of white rioters vs. those  pushing for racial justice last summer. 

“I can’t imagine any of us gaining the same kind of access. The police response was so drastically different from when Black Lives Matter protests were happening. It trips me out, the disparity that exists” Stoner said.

Patrick Montague said, “Where was the police presence we see when Black people are protesting?”

He argued President Donald Trump was directly responsible for deaths and damages. 

What’s next?

Mark Willis said he initially felt fear due to pro-Trump extremists’ actions. He soon turned angry. He wanted to know what federal leaders will do as Biden’s administration comes in.   

“If the violence is not met with a response, with judicial response, with arrests, prosecutions, that means they can get away with this in the future. And that’s scarier because now they’ve been emboldened to do more and go further without a harsh response.”

Morgan Johnson echoed Willis’ reaction and wondered about consequences. “I wonder when arrests will be made. How is this not domestic terrorism? Will this embolden others at the local level?”

Valerie Taylor Stoner, a biracial woman, kept her eye on hope, especially with a woman like Kamala Harris rising to the vice presidency and Joe Biden moving into the White House.

“I feel optimistic that a Biden presidency will create an inclusive environment that will allow people from both sides to heal and move forward together. It’s so critical we don’t ignore each other's opinions. It’s so critical that we don't allow people to just move forward and think everything is going to be okay. We’ve proven that not everything is going to be okay.”

Check out more Angeleno reactions on KCRW’s Twitter and Facebook.