January 6, 2021 | Our U.S. Capitol: “It was all so surreal. Everything was out of context and not the way it was supposed to be…. I looked upward and saw the majestic dome of the Capitol with the American flag, fluttering against the bright blue sky and blazing sun. How could this assault and death, senselessness and tragedy, occur here [the Capitol] at the heart of our democracy?” These words I wrote in a Forbes article in 2018 on the 20-year anniversary of the 1998 Capitol shooting. They just as well could depict today.
President-elect Joe Biden, hours ago, similarly described the terrifying and shameful events of today created by pro-Trump rioters when he said, “Our democracy is under precedented assault, unlike anything we have seen in modern times … an assault on the citadel of liberty, the Capitol itself.”
This is not peaceful freedom of speech, this is an attack that puts innocent people in danger and deserves to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Democracy is fragile. We must come together. We must not tolerate anarchy, mob-like mentality, violence, physical confrontation, and lawlessness. Whatever our differences and beliefs, we must unite around the peaceful transfer of power. We must rise to the expectations of being the world’s beacon of democracy.
We have witnessed loss of life in the Capitol building today. In 1998 two brave, honorable heroes — Capitol Police Officer Jacob Chestnut and Special Agent John Gibson — lost their lives defending us against a mentally ill shooter who stormed the Capitol. Our condolences to all those individuals and families who have been so deeply hurt by these tragedies.
Below is my Forbes op-ed from 2018 describing the experience of the 1998 Capitol shooting: