To prevent more events like the deadly U.S. Capitol insurrection, the violent rioters and those who inflamed the mob—including former President Donald Trump—must be held accountable for their actions and their rhetoric on social media, Northeastern experts said this week.
The call for vigilance and consequences come as Senate Republicans indicated that they’re unlikely to convict Trump for inciting violence against the government. Only five GOP senators voted against an effort to dismiss Trump’s impeachment trial Tuesday, which leaves Democrats far from the 17 Republican votes needed to earn a conviction. The Senate trial is scheduled to start Feb. 9.
The GOP schism, and the influence Trump continues to wield, echoes a theme of deep division across the country.
“Our gravely fractured nation is at a crossroads once again and does not have the luxury of waiting,” says Rod K. Brunson, a Northeastern criminology professor and Thomas P. O’Neill Jr. Chair of Public Life. Brunson added, however, that President Joe Biden’s vow to root out racial injustice “offers a critical opportunity for change.”
Brunson was one of four Northeastern faculty members who discussed the Capitol siege and the ideological forces behind the insurrection at an event titled, “White Supremacy, Insurrection, and U.S. Democracy.” The Tuesday evening event was part of “Conflict. Civility. Respect. Peace. Northeastern Reflects,” the university’s educational series on civic sustainability.
Other panel members included Patricia J. Williams, university distinguished professor of law and humanities; Brooke Foucault Welles, associate professor of communication studies; and Costas Panagoupolos, chair of the political science department. It was moderated by Richard L. O’Bryant, director of the John D. O’Bryant African American Institute and political science professor.