Calls to “lock them up,” and yet … also “heartbreak” at the state of the nation.
Comparisons to 9/11.
We asked our viewers how they felt as they watched the chaotic scenes of a pro-Trump mob breaching the nation’s Capitol on January 6. Usually a ceremonial day — with little fanfare in previous years — when Congress meets to certify the results of the election. Now, a day that will go down as one of the darkest in America’s history.
We received more than 7,000 responses. Here’s a snapshot of what you told us.
It’s a turning point.
Along with tears and anger, many of our viewers told us January 6 is a day they won’t forget.
Pam B., Effort, Pennsylvania
“The saddest and most upsetting day regarding our country, in my lifetime. Our democracy was at stake, and the sitting president supported all of this. I was angry, afraid, but mostly angry. That nobody reined this President in months/years prior to this says a lot about the Republicans’ inability to be objective. And yesterday was the icing on the cake. How many lives must be threatened before Trump is stopped? I live in a great amount of fear now … as the emotions of the people rioting will, no doubt, trickle down to residents in my community.”
Janet B., Las Vegas, Nevada
“I was watching the confirmation process and saw the Capitol, MY Capitol, being stormed. I told my husband that, after watching many movies with foreign agents attacking the White House, I never expected to see so-called Americans attacking. We wept.”
Ken A., Memphis, Tennessee
“I am so totally disgusted and disappointed. So many people I know and consider friends, are in total support of Trump. They consider the people who invaded the Capitol as patriots and that the election was a fraud. Things will never be the same.”
“My wife calls me a robot because I don’t show my emotions very often. Yesterday, on my drive home, I was so angry with the terrorists who desecrated our Temple of Liberty, I cried. This was almost as surreal as 9/11. I was texting with my British friend who, along with his wife, just became permanent residents. I apologized to him for what he was seeing. This is the United States of America. We do not act this this. We are the example to the world of what freedom and democracy look like. Not by screaming, or bravado, or force, but by going about our business and letting our normal be how we show the world … this is how it is done, this is who we are. Yesterday, we lost this. Yesterday, America failed.”
You hold Trump accountable and want action.
The overwhelming majority of our viewers hold President Trump responsible for what happened and want him removed from office.
Michael S., Cornwall, Vermont
“I watched in horror. Trump is a traitor, MAGA and the Proud Boys (etc.) are domestic terrorists, and much of the GOP is complicit. Trump should resign or be removed from office immediately. A criminal madman should not have access to nuclear weapons.”
Annie A., Scarborough, Maine
“I would like to see Trump immediately removed from office via the 25th Amendment. Then I would like him impeached so that he can never run for or hold office again. Finally I would like him prosecuted for the “too many to count” violations of federal and state law. Hopefully this will result in his going to prison. To do nothing and not hold him accountable will be the downfall of our democracy.”
“I was shocked by what I saw from the rioters and the President. I view the people that stormed the Capitol as traitors and non-Americans. I hope as many of the rioters will be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent. The President Trump should be stripped of his powers and never be allowed to hold a public office again. I am so disgusted with him and the mob.”
Beca, San Antonio, Texas
“Trump needs to be removed from office and charged for his crimes against our democracy now! This has gone on far too long. I’m feeling scared and heartbroken that our country has fallen so low that we can’t get along because so many are brainwashed by a weak leader who wishes to do harm.”
But it’s not just Trump who you blame.
Trump is not alone. Many of you blamed lawmakers, too, and want them held to account as well.
Arnold R., California
“Senators and Congressmen who have supported Trump must be removed from office NOW!”
Rick, Dallas, Texas
“This is an unprecedented attack in our democracy. This is so surreal how this President has made a mockery of our most sacred institutions including the peaceful transfer of power. I am a lifelong Republican who for the first time voted Democrat in 2020. I do not recognize my party. We need to Invoke the 25th Amendment and remove this President. The GOP needs to prove that they are a party that puts its citizens and sacred democracy ahead of any individual. This is a very transparent moment for the GOP, we will see in the next few days where their priorities lie. This administration has exploited the political ignorance of the mob for too long. Let them splinter and isolate themselves in full view as insurgents and traitors.”
Tammy H., St. Charles, Missouri
“I am a Missourian and devout Republican. I voted for Josh Hawley. Many of my friends did. We will not make the same mistake again.”
Frizzell, Washington, DC,
“This could have been prevented [if] all of the spineless GOP had stood up to Trump at the beginning. They created the monster and then set him upon America. Anything they did now will never excuse their choice of power over country. They need to be held accountable for the sedition that occurred.”
Janice R., Seymour, Tennessee
“Every one of the persons who stormed the Capitol needs to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. True Trumpists are a lost cause. But I hope that the events of January 6 have made every person who voted for Trump in 2016, believing for some unfathomable reason that he was “the lesser of two evils,” is ashamed and regretful today. They did as much as Trump and as much as the Trump cultists to cause this.”
You want answers to the police inaction.
Many of you viewed the police inaction as hypocritical in comparison to the treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters in the summer of 2020.
Jai H., Baton Rouge, Louisiana
“The riots that happened [Wednesday] were reprehensible. We have seen the warning signs over and over again the last few years since Trump’s election. I am appalled that those non-patriotic rioters were allowed to casually storm into the people’s house and loot, destroy property, endanger lives and face no consequences at all. From what I understand, minimal arrests were made for curfew violations but nothing more. Those rioters had access to sensitive information in the offices of lawmakers and even [got] away with mail, laptops and even signs and podiums with no repercussions for the law enforcement there. The difference in treatment between this mob and the peaceful protests from the Black Lives Matter protesters are blatantly apparent and disgusting. I would like answers.”
Liz H., Austin, Texas
“I’m exhausted. Beyond angry. Disgusted and so tired of the racial double standards. Last summer protesters were tear gassed shot arrested in huge numbers for being on the street near the Capitol. These people pushed into the Capitol or were let in, looted and vandalized our public property and then just went home! Now the FBI can’t figure out who these punks are? They’re all over Twitter bragging but the FBI doesn’t have enough video to locate them? We are a global laughingstock! Iran and China are schooling us on democracy! We’ve watched Republicans lie and promote aggression with their constituents for months … riling them up until this happened. These so-called leaders put their own self-indulgence ahead of the people they swore to serve. It literally took having a gun held on them for them to acknowledge their hypocrisy.”
Kylie, Portland, Oregon
“As a BIPOC youth, yesterday really showed the US’s true colors. Seeing the Confederate flag, Nazi paraphernalia, clothing items that had racist and anti-Semitic paraphernalia, a noose and a guillotine allowed into the capitol both broke my heart and exposed the hypocrisy in the US. When people were protesting for civil rights and Black lives, they were met with police brutality, tear gas, rubber bullets etc., yet these terrorists who not only breached multiple lines of security, broke into the Capitol and vandalized it. Black and Brown people in this country are shot for doing nothing in most situations, yet people will find ways to justify their murder. Jewish and Muslim youth ate targeted for practicing their faith, which people will try and justify using outdated disgusting stereotypes. Asian youth have experienced an exponential amount of hate crimes within the states recently due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people will try and justify it. Yet when thousands of White supremacists, carrying symbols of hate and violence break into the capital they aren’t given the same treatment. I’ve grown up in Portland, Oregon, a city that had become infamous in regards to the deployment of the Feds back in July. Trump was so fast to deploy the Feds in Portland, yet he couldn’t do the same yesterday. The worst part is this was 100% avoidable. If Trump and the 11 senators plus various House members did not perpetuate the conspiracy theory that the election was fraudulent, we wouldn’t be in this situation. What a disgusting way to end the Presidency.”
Chris C., Dallas, Texas
“To be honest, I don’t know how to feel anymore. How can the President of the United States continue to severely damage and divide our country with no repercussions? Not a single BLM protester would’ve made it into the chambers, alive! Capitol Hill’s plaza would have been covered with rubber bullets and depleted gas canisters, such protesters would have been labeled as “thugs.” Meanwhile pro-Trump rioters with the intent of causing chaos off baseless accusations, on the order of the President, were met with zero resistance and acknowledged as “good people.” Let’s not forget about the corrupt elected officials in both the House and Senate that attempted to derail our democracy as a result of the President’s baseless accusations till the very end; they are as guilty as these domestic terrorists and need to be removed from their seats as well as face charges for sedition! The American people are very lucky democracy prevailed — this time! But our system is broken. Elected officials are putting their own agendas, lust for power and control, over the American people. I’m finding it very difficult to remain optimistic for the future as it’s going to take longer than 4 years to clean up the devastating mess, both domestic and international, Trump and his allies created during his tenure.”
You feel like our democracy is at stake.
Along with fear, many of you described a sense of America’s democracy being more fragile than you thought it was.
Shana D., California
“[Wednesday’s] attempted coup was one of the most terrifying things I have witnessed with the exception of 9-11. Within the last four years Trump has managed to tear down the democracy that we built, fought and died for. We have managed to hold onto our democracy by a razor thin margin and I pray that we can turn around our country before it is too late.”
Kim S., Gray, Tennessee
“I’m frightened at what this administration has gotten away with. I’m frightened by how gullible and uneducated our US citizens have become. I’m frightened that we value personality over our laws and constitution. I’m frightened that one evil-intentioned man can rise to the top of our political system to become President. I’m frightened that the whole world is watching and that the rest of the evil in this world is seeing how divided and vulnerable we are now. I’m afraid we’ve lost our Democratic way — that we’ve forgotten that being an American requires a personal responsibility to our Nation to be good caretakers of our laws, our words, and each other. I’m frightened to be a US citizen for the first time in my life.”
Michael F., Albemarle, North Carolina
“When broadcasts of the insurrectionists came to my attention I was outraged for a few minutes but ended up with tears and sadness that any American would take part in any conduct being exhibited. I can’t watch anything about this without getting completely choked up and shedding tears. I fear for my country if these abhorrent actions continue. The President is clearly delusional, still speaking of a stolen election he won by a landslide. All of this is traceable back to his proclamations and I feel it’s time for us to say, “lock them up.”
Javier A., Alhambra, California
“Fascism has come to America. All Americans of goodwill must stand against our old enemy, whether under the banner of White supremacy, Nazism, Confederacy, KKK or plain old racism. In all its manifestations, it is the enemy of democracy and freedom.”
David S., Jacksonville, Florida
“As a veteran, sworn to protect the country from “all enemies foreign and domestic,” I felt the domestic part was unnecessary and confusing. I understood domestic terrorism and considered attacks like the OK city bombing and 911 extremely unfortunate, but singular events. These events did little to threaten our democracy. If anything these events created resolve and unification. I never expected the biggest threat to be located in the White House. I told my family they will remember where they were for the rest of their lives. My parents have JFK, I have 911, my children have 1/6. Yesterday I learned a painful lesson about the founders’ prescience and wisdom.”
Note: We have used only our viewers’ first names and in most cases their last initials to protect their identities after previous incidents of harassment from people who disagree with the opinions they shared with CNN.