Atlantic writer says Jan. 6 ‘wasn’t a riot, it was a war’ in review of new HBO doc ‘Four Hours at the Capitol’


A culture staff writer at The Atlantic compared the riot on Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., to “war” in a review of a new HBO documentary called “Four Hours at the Capitol,” a claim that drew no shortage of mocking derision on social media.

“In the days and weeks after the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, commentators and media outlets grappled with the question of what to call that event,” Sophie Gilbert began her piece.

“Language is sticky; it clarifies and obfuscates the truth depending on who’s wielding it. January 6 was described as or likened to a ‘riot,’ a ‘tourist visit,’ an ‘insurrection,’ a ‘peaceful protest,’ and a ‘coup attempt.’ And yet, watching Four Hours at the Capitol, Jamie Roberts’s tight, unsettling new HBO documentary about that day, another word seemed more appropriate to me, one that most of the participants interviewed in the film might agree on,” she continued, adding: “More than anything else, January 6 was war.”

None of those who battled with police that day used firearms. As of June, the Justice Department had charged four protesters with firearms violations including carrying a weapon on Capitol grounds and one who had guns in his truck. But the only person who utilized a firearm that day was Capitol Police Lt. Michael Byrd, who shot and killed unarmed protester and Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt, whom Gilbert described as a “pro-Trump extremist.”

Documents obtained by Judicial Watch last week through a Freedom of Information Act request indicated “there was no good reason to shoot and kill” her, according to the organization’s president, Tom Fitton.

“Like most people, I watched January 6 unfold from my couch, where the cognitive dissonance of seeing men in full tactical gear and Confederate Army cosplayers traipsing through the Capitol’s hallways was undercut by a genuine horror about what might happen next,” Gilbert writes. “Matter-of-factly, Four Hours at the Capitol documents how fiercely [police officers] fought to keep the insurrectionists from overwhelming the building and reaching members of Congress.”

Video footage posted online after the riot and that which was obtained via FOIA recently does not show police officers battling hordes of protesters inside the Capitol, though crowds did use various objects to smash windows and rush at some police officers.

In some cases, officers appeared to allow demonstrators inside rather than attempting to prevent them from accessing the Capitol.

“Capitol Police officers are equipped to deal with violence and threats to their lives. They’re not trained for warfare, which is what must have made January 6 and their task of defending the U.S. Capitol seem so absurd,” Gilbert wrote.

Her views of the film and her opinions of what she believes took place on Jan. 6 were mercilessly ridiculed on social media.


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