By Clay Thompson | Intern
After the violent breach of the Capitol building by pro-Trump rioters on Jan. 6, several Baylor students studying in Washington D.C. this semester shared their reactions and unique experiences in the days that followed.
“The day it all happened, the rest of us were still on our way [to D.C.] or about to come,” Parker, Colo., senior Kaitlin Ochs said, referring to her other three roommates. “It all happened really quickly. One day we’re talking about what decor we’re going to put up in the apartment and the next day we’re talking about safety plans.”
One student, Burien, Wash., senior Celia Artis, was not at the Capitol when it was attacked, but she and a friend accidentally got off a Metro stop right next to the White House that day. She said that MAGA protesters began to arrive after a small Black Lives Matter gathering had been present. The MAGA protesters were not wearing face masks, but no one looked aggressive said, Artis.
“What struck me is that there were families there,” Artis said. “And this one family really stood out to me because the dad had a baseball bat in his backpack, but he was also pushing a kid on a stroller.”
After the breach of the Capitol, there were immediate safety measures implemented in D.C. A city-wide public emergency was put in place and National Guard troops were sent to prevent further violence.
Anderson, S.C., senior Anne-Douglas Cousar, one of Artis’ roommates, said that as she and her friends walked through town to get groceries several days ago, she could feel a change in the city.
“I feel like the energy in the city has just shifted to everyone just being very much on their guard,” Cousar said. “I feel like the unexpected happened. How much reinforcement has come in and all the troops that are here is assuring, and I’m really grateful for that.”
San Angelo junior Kevin Franke, another Baylor D.C. student, said the biggest difference he’s seen is the increased security.
“Prior to the outbreak of violence in Washington, there were more opportunities to visit monuments, memorials and museums,” Franke wrote in a direct message. “However, due to the increased security, much of the tourist opportunities have been compromised.”
Franke also noted that some changes in D.C. applied to his job. He wrote that he works in the Rayburn House Office Building, a separate office building for members of Congress, and that his internship there would be remote the upcoming week for safety purposes.
Baylor’s program in Washington, D.C., is a combination of coursework, research and work-study at various internships within the nation’s capital. However, these students had no idea an attack on the U.S. Capitol building would factor into their experience while in D.C.
“Obviously, there is a lot happening here. It is such a big protest hub,” Cousar said. “I just never expected there to be violence to the extent that there was.”