Reaction to the rioting in Washington on Wednesday, Jan. 6. ran the gamut from shock to outrage among Langley residents.
Violent protesters breached the U.S. Capitol, forcing a delay in the constitutional process to affirm president-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.
For the Rev. Dr. James Ellis III, chaplain and director of student ministries at Langley-based Trinity Western University, who used to live in the U.S. capitol near the government buildings where the rioting took place, the scenes he was seeing were “unfathomable” and his feelings were mixed.
On the one hand, he was glad he isn’t living there anymore, but on the other hand, he said as an African-American, it is part of a larger struggle that he would “love” to be back there to fight.
“As the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” Dr. Ellis told the Langley Advance Times.
“President Trump has pushed the limits and we’re seeing the result. It’s one thing to have differences, it’s another thing to be doing what president Trump is doing.”
“It’s kind of weird” to be witnessing violence in such familiar places, Dr. Ellis commented.
Langley City anti-bigotry activist Cran Campbell said it shows what happens when extreme statements are allowed online, unfettered, and proves there should be restrictions.
Campbell, who waged an eight-year battle against hate speech on the Craiglist Vancouver online forums that he monitors, said he was “amazed and horrified” at viewing what he described as “lunacy.”
READ MORE: Washington riots updated
“I can understand people wanting to disagree, but when they arm themselves, you wonder what happens next,” Campbell told the Langley Advance Times.
“I would hate to see that come up in Canada,” Campbell commented. “I believe in free speech, I really do. But there has to be limits.”
Campbell has lobbied the federal government to restore section 13(1) of the Canada Human Rights Act, which allowed the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to go after online hate propagandists, fining them as much as $10,000.
Judi Vankevich, Langley’s “Manners Lady,” blamed the violence on outside Antifa agitators, and called for civility.
“We were all praying for a peaceful rally,” Vankevich said. “Whoever gets arrested, we will find out who they are.”
Vankevich added she believed there were “irregularities” in the U.S. election that saw Donald Trump lose to Joe Biden, and those “need to be exposed.”
Dr. Ross Michael Pink, chair of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University political science department, who teaches American politics, said the events in Washington were the result of “bitterness” between the two main political parties in the U.S.A. in the wake of a polarzing and divisive administration.
Pink describes the American constitution as “resilient” document that has survived many challenges over many years, and will likely survive this one.
“I take the long view,” Pink said. “I think this will wash away.”
Dr. Leanne Smythe, political studies instructor at Langley’s Trinity Western University, was cautiously optimistic, but warned it will take “hard work” for the U.S. to overcome its divisions.
Trump won power by speaking for people who have “real fear” about their prospects and felt they weren’t being heard, and Canadians can’t assume a similar kind of disruption can’t happen here, she warned.
“Democracy is fragile and we have taken it so for granted,” Smythe cautioned.
“Our democracy (Canada’s) is fragile too.”
Asked if the Washington events mean the U.S. is so divided as to be ungovernable, as some commentators have suggested, Smythe remarked “that is the fear, and hopefully not the reality.”
@TrinityWestern has the privilege of educating many U.S. students. Our hearts go out to all affected by the violence and insurrection at the United States Capitol yesterday. We pray for the peace and well-being of the city (Jer 29:7).
— Mark Husbands (@TWU_pres) January 8, 2021
Online comments on the Langley Advance Times Facebook page included Cindy Dunlap Kittle, who said she was an “American/Canadian citizen and can’t wrap my head around the pathetic power struggle of Trump and the lies his base follows. Makes you question humanity. What a disgrace! “
Alanna Chaudhry, who also has dual American/Canadian citizenship said “I’m glad I’m here and not there.”
Kimberly Lapossie, an American living in Aldergrove, agreed with Chaudry.
“It’s pretty saddening watching my country burn like this” Lapossie said.
Dual citizen Leah Campbell, who said she lives on the edge of Langley, was “pretty speechless.”
Shannan Daws Hickey said her husband is an American who was “embarrassed” with what’s going on.
– with files from Canadian Press