District Holds Assembly on Jan. 6 Capitol Riots

Black student panelists discussed their reactions to the double standard in law enforcement response to protests


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Pro-Trump protesters breech the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Students grades 2-12 attended an assembly Jan. 12 to address the Jan. 6 rioting at the U.S. Capitol. 

Pro-Trump protestors gathered at The White House that day to hear a speech by President Donald Trump in which he urged them to go to the Capitol to fight for their country. They later gathered at the Capitol to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election. Some stormed the Capitol building, overwhelming the Capitol Police, interrupting the proceedings, vandalizing the building and stealing items, including documents, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s lectern and at least one laptop. During the breach, representatives and staff were evacuated from the chamber and waited hours in a safe location before returning and resuming the certification process early in the morning of Jan. 7.

The assembly focused on the disparity between law enforcement response to these incidents and the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer.

The pre-recorded panel discussion, titled “Black Student Voices: The State of Our Democracy,” was hosted by Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, executive director of diversity, equity and inclusion. 

During the 42-minute discussion, Black students Dalton Mosely, a senior; Ayande Joseph and  Alina Roach, juniors; Rory Lee, an eighth-grader; Bahji Jenkins, a seventh-grader; Emmanuel Zarders, a sixth-grader; and Anthony Crawford, a fifth-grader, answered questions from Wilder regarding the Jan. 6 events.

Dr. David Glasner, superintendent, announced the assembly via an email and a message posted on the Shaker schools website Jan. 11. “The events at the Capitol building on January 6 provided an example of the disparity in response by law enforcement to protests organized by largely white groups versus those organized by the Black community, specifically, the Black Lives Matter protests,” he wrote. 

“As educators, we know the power of real-world learning experiences for students. As a District committed to diversity, equity and inclusion and having adopted an Educational Equity policy, which is the foundation of our Strategic Plan, we also believe it is important to create designated spaces for historically underrepresented voices to be heard,” Glasner said.

Mosley said during the assembly that he was doing homework when he found out about the rioting. “I was stunned, to say the least, and not exactly in a good way,” he said.

Joseph said that although the riots were shocking, he was not surprised that they occured. “President Trump has been fueling the hate and the negativity for so long,” Joseph said. “He’s been lying, he’s had double standards. He has not held himself accountable for his actions. So yes, I was surprised that his followers actually did commit these acts of violence and terrorism, but I was not surprised because I know that he’s been building up to it all along.”

Joseph also pointed out the disparity between the riots in the Capitol and Black Lives Matter protests. “On one side, you have the terrorists taking selfies with the police officer inside the building, and then on the other hand, you have peaceful protesters being shown plenty of violence for peacefully protesting,” he said. “It’s just Black and white of the double standards.”

Zarders said that he didn’t know what would have happened if it had been a BLM protest. “I just wonder what they would have done if Black Lives Matter would have stormed the Capitol,” he said. “With Black Lives Matter, it was peaceful, but then the police came and made the people angry. I don’t know what they would have done.”

Roach said that she was particularly affected by a man posing with a stolen lectern in the Capitol building. “I saw an image of one of the other participants. He was holding a podium from the Capitol building, and you couldn’t see any law enforcement behind him in the picture,” she said. “The confidence that he had —  to just enter and take the property, and not think of any other repercussions for his actions.”

Jenkins said that it was particularly distressing given the issues the two movements stood for. “To go to the Capitol and riot, for the reasons that they did, is revolting,” she said. “Given that one is losing an election and the other one is standing up for your life, it’s pretty absurd.”

“For all Black people in America, it’s an extremely scary thought,” Joseph said.

Roach said that discussions such as the assembly are an example of what needs to continue happening. “In the future, we can continue to talk about and spread awareness because a lot of the actions that happened yesterday — they’re a result of a lack of information and a lack of awareness of what’s happening,” she said.

Lee said that such discussions need to occur more often in class. “If we had discussions in class, more than just 10 minutes, maybe half the class so that we could still get through our lesson plan, to take time to talk about events that happen like this, it could really be beneficial for the kids to learn,” she said.

“We have to start with ourselves,” Zarders said. “We have to educate ourselves.”

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