University, state officials react to the Capitol Building siege

(Courtesy | President Donald Trump's Twitter account)

The world watched as MAGA supporters and allies stormed up the steps of the United States capitol Building to riot during Congress’ Electoral College Count earlier this afternoon.

David Jesuit, chair of the Department of Political Science at Central Michigan University, was watching the live Electoral College Count on C-Span to witness what he claimed was an already historic day. Then, things began to escalate.

"They showed some people entering the Capitol and I thought, 'That's strange. How did they get in?'" Jesuit said. "Then, when they evacuated and the cameras showed the crowds, I was just -- I was stunned."

Jesuit said the violence happening during the riots did not surprise him.

"Unfortunately, there's been violence at the other protests, but I am surprised that it kind of spilled into the Capitol Building," Jesuit said. "Certainly, it's risen to this whole other level, and they've disrupted the work of Congress and it's become a mob. 

"I don't think there's any other way of describing it other than a mob."

Since a similar, smaller and less violent situation happened in Lansing on April 30, Jesuit believes the breach at the Nation's Capitol may get the ball rolling for the state to reconsider their law to open carry inside the Capitol Building.

"It's pretty scary and also made me think of Michigan when we had those armed protesters in the state capitol." Jesuit said. "When you see something like that, just violates all the norms of a democratic political system. I think there now will have to be some greater scrutiny of, of people carrying firearms into the Capitol."

Political science and public administration faculty member David Rutledge, a former Michigan House member, had similar views on the events.

"I would call what occurred and played out on TV in our nation's capitol 'an act of insurrection,'" Rutledge said. "I would go a step further and call it a coup attempt by the current leader of our country."

Rutledge also discussed what these events say about the innerworkings of the country and government.

Michigan Congressman Dan Kildee, a CMU alumnus, was waiting to cast electoral votes when rioters began storming the Capitol Building. He said in a tweet he and others were instructed to lie on the floor and put on gas masks as events unfolded.

While members of Congress began to seek shelter, chamber security and capitol police drew their guns as protestors banged on doors to the chamber.

"This is not a protest," Kildee said in a tweet. "This is an attack on America."

Later, Kildee and others were evacuated to an "alternate, safe location."

"This is a dark moment for the history of our country," Kildee said in a later tweet. "Praying for an end to the violence and safety of everyone in the capitol."

In a statement on behalf of Central Michigan University, Executive Director of University Communications Heather Smith said President Bob Davies, the cabinet and the emergency management team are monitoring the events as they unfold. Decisions in result of today's events have not been made.

"It is too early to assess what immediate action is or will be appropriate, and it is also too early to determine how this may possibly affect campus operations," Smith said. "University leadership will continue to monitor and inform our entire community of any impact to our operation as events warrant."

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Gov. Rick Snyder also released a joint statement condemning the siege on the Capitol Building earlier in the evening.

“What is unfolding today in our nation’s capital is truly appalling. Violence, vandalism, and insurrection have no place in this great country of ours. We are a nation of laws, not mobs,” Whitmer said.