Capitol Hill riot from the perspective of a Lake Land student

Jess Oakley, Reporter

On Jan. 6, 2021, a crowd of former President Donald Trump supporters attended a rally near the White House, hoping to come together with other like-minded individuals in their support of Trump and disapproval of the government’s handling of the allegations of fraudulent votes in the 2020 election. The reason this date may be cemented into United States history is because of the crowd that stormed the Capitol, creating an event which demanded the senate and representatives be evacuated. 

A former student of Lake Land actually attended the Trump rally at the Capitol, and I sat down with him to discuss what went down that day. Marshall Nohren majored in business administration with the goal of being an accountant. That unfortunately didn’t work out for him, so he joined the military instead.

I asked Marshall a series of questions about how he ended up at the Capitol, especially all the way from Illinois. Marshall was open in telling me that he and his mother kind of planned the whole trip on a whim, wishing to go see one of the last Trump rallies where he was still the president. When I asked if they flew or drove out, of course he laughed and said they drove “We’re midwesterners, it’s only an 11 hour drive.” 

When I asked him what the purpose of going was and what he and the other people who attended wanted to get out of going, he said something that made me have a bit of a realization. “I think a lot of people just wanted to be heard.” In the mess of the election, a whole portion of the American people felt their worries about fraud and fake votes were completely swept aside by the government. Marshall shared that he wasn’t that upset about the actual presidency changing hands, but his wish for fair elections in the future was a driving force for attending the rally. 

When asked about the portion of the attendees that broke into the Capitol and started looting, he vocally disapproved. He said, “It just discredits basically everything we were standing for that day, and that’s the real unfortunate part.” He also brought up the topic of the Black Lives Matter protests that happened throughout last summer, where he also attended one. The main point of the movement can often be overlooked because of the looting or damage that is caused by outliers of the group that feel that marching and chanting isn’t enough to get the point across. 

I asked him if he could go back and change anything, what he would change. He said that he didn’t feel that he could have really changed anything to be more constructive or stopped the people who were determined to rush the Capitol in the first place. He spoke about how much he loved being there and meeting the people there. 

We also discussed how the riots were being discussed, by both sides. He disagreed with the notion of it being domestic terrorism, citing the lack of planning and organization goes against the description of a terrorist attack, but stated that he believed the individuals involved deserved justice. From the other side comes the question of revolution. Marshall was clear in that he wishes for there not to be that sort of civil unrest. He stated that he would rather things stay peaceful. 

I asked him to describe the emotions that were going through his mind as people were leaving the Trump rally and started towards the actual Capitol. “The energy up until that was excitement. It was nice being in a group of people that kind of had a similar thought process to you.” He told me about various people he met from all across the United States. He doesn’t remember when people started to actually break past the police barriers and into the Capitol. However, he told his mom when it was clear something, although he didn’t know what exactly at the time, was going on near the Capitol building, “Hey, I think we should go, I really don’t think we should be here anymore.” They left shortly after and on the trek back to their truck, “We just see cop car after cop car going to the Capitol, and it’s just one of those things, where you’re just like ‘What? What just happened?’” He said that they didn’t even know people had broken into the Capitol until 5 p.m. when they had already left D.C. and could get phone reception again.

I also asked him about the confederate flags and swastikas that were presented by and worn by some of the people in attendance. Marshall said that he doesn’t remember seeing any swastikas worn or presented by anyone in the crowd, but said that he doesn’t condone it at all. On the topic of the confederate flag, Marshall was clear in that he was disappointed to see it flying since he considers it treasonous to fly another country’s flag. 

Finally, I asked him if he was concerned about foreign countries seeing how easy it was for the people of America being able to break into a place where senators and even the vice president were at work. He said he was worried, but he is more worried about the division of our country than that of foreign powers. “I’m more concerned about our country being divided than a foreign country attacking.” He especially stated, “I want to be able to see people come together and have conversations about their differences.”

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