Donald Trump is getting the chaotic, violent, blood-soaked sendoff that he always demanded—but he might have overstepped the mark this time.
Twitter locked Donald Trump’s account.
In a way, that was the most surprising thing about the events of January 6, as terrorists—or, since they were white, “protesters”—descended on the Capitol and stormed the houses of Congress in an attempt to stop the certification of an election loss which happened two months earlier.
And it was always going to be ugly, since Trump and his band of enablers had been goading the violent, racist underbelly of his voting base to carry out a coup for weeks with claims that the Democrats had stolen the election via shadowy, evidence-free means which remained impervious to investigation—especially once Trump was informed that Vice President Mike Pence wasn’t going to overthrow the election result (which he had no power to do) and return Trump to power.
It didn’t work—Congress returned after the building was cleared, and continued certifying the results, although a woman is dead in circumstances which remain murky, explosive devices were found in the building, media were attacked and their equipment smashed, and documents and American flags were ripped up in what is not exactly an argument for the protester’s proud patriotism.
And Trump continued to insist that the non-Trump supporting public had brought this upon themselves by not handing him the presidency he comprehensively lost in November, before tweeting out a weak call for rioters to go home but be proud of their excellent work: “I know your pain, I know your hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it—especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.”
And that was the moment that Twitter decided it had finally had enough and locked his account for reasons of public safety.
This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.
— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) January 7, 2021
As events unfolded, conservative media tried to say it was the Left’s fault since they started it with the whole Black Lives Matter thing. Because peaceful protests demanding justice for the murder of people of color is somehow equivalent to gun-toting mobs attempting to violently end the operation of representative democracy, right?
And there are already questions being asked about how the mobs were able to get into the building given that the authorities knew this was coming—it is instructive how they dealt with BLM protests versus letting a bunch of armed white people just sort of wander into the senate and smash some stuff, despite literal weeks of warnings that this was coming, almost like there was some difference which made law enforcement a bit more casual.
As academic Miranda Welsh put it: “At protests with left-leaning agendas in DC, I have confronted barricades a mile wide around federal buildings protected by ALL THE COPS + rubber bullets + tear gas + water cannons. I’ve been arrested and detained for days, without being charged, and released without explanation or apology. None of it is appropriate, regardless of the views being expressed, but the contrast between how I’ve been met as a protester vs. today (when the cops had plenty of time to prepare) says a lot about what kinds of free speech we protect in this nation.”
And as the count continues and Joe Biden’s victory is—again—reaffirmed by the U.S. Congress, what will the Republicans do about the monster they’ve unleashed? Will their Trump-supporting faction continue to fan the flames of violence and unrest? Or has the sight of actual armed looters ripping the building apart made them aware that this isn’t just another round in their endless Let’s-Own-The-Libs, point-scoring culture war? After all, there were people with guns roaming the halls looking for senators they felt had been insufficiently loyal to Trump.
What’s certain, as much as anything, is that this is a game changer. Trump actively called for violence, and he got it. Twitter locked Trump’s account, and that might not be the only time “Trump” and “locked” are in the same sentence.