Big Issue Vendor

‘It’s time for change’: Washington DC street paper vendors on Capitol riot

US street paper vendors reflect on the chaos caused after Trump incited riots as Joe Biden becomes the next President
A pro-trump mob gathers outside the US Capitol Building. Image credit: McPherson Square photo by Athiyah Azeem

The pro-Trump protests at the White House and violent breach of the US Capitol on 6 January aiming to delay certification of the 2020 election results followed a trend of violence demonstrated at previous pro-Trump protest events in December 2020 and included multiple factions of racist, white supremacist and far-right extremists.

Ahead of the rally, US Park police had the venue, McPherson Square, cleared of people experiencing homelessness due to its proximity to the White House, according to Daniel Kingery, who has been sleeping there. The US Park Police did not respond to requests for comment.

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.   

Pro-Trump crowds are expected to return. An internal FBI bulletin obtained by ABC News aid the bureau had received information about armed protests being planned at all 50 state capitols and again at the US Capitol up until Inauguration Day, 20 January.

Some Street Sense vendors reflected on the riots of January 6, as Trump supporters and his administration continue to disrupt the lives of those on the streets.

SSE_Vendors on Capitol riots_5
Street Sense vendor Marcus Green

Marcus Green, Street Sense artist and vendor

These last few days, Trump supporters have detoured my life.

They remind me of Jim Jones’s cult juice. Some of these people were so far gone that he could have probably gotten each and everyone to drink the suicide juice that day. Trump is a coward hiding behind his security and Twitter account — and that last one has been taken away. It takes so much denial to not see him for what he is that these people don’t know what reality looks like anymore.

But if it would have been African-Americans storming the Capitol instead of Caucasians, we’d be planning a lot of funerals right now. They had to give a lot of ground before a gun was even drawn. That right there says a lot. White people are policed differently than Blacks. That was brave of Congress to go back to certifying Biden’s victory as our newly elected President of the United States of America. Will they hold Trump accountable for inciting a riot and aiding and abetting manslaughter?

Moving forward, let’s hope he doesn’t take another stab at the presidential race in 2024. Historically, Donald Trump will be known as the most lame president ever. I pray his supporters, after the deadly consequences of their actions and the many people now being arrested for their actions, will never come to Washington DC again.

SSE_Vendors on Capitol riots_6
Street Sense vendor Marcellus Phillips

Marcellus Phillips, Street Sense artist and vendor

Donald Trump takes others’ lives as a joke. All my life I have been against politics and politicians because of the special treatment they seem to get over the public and those they consider beneath them and their colleagues. Instead of coming up with ways to help the homeless, they focus on who is going to hold a particular position in the very system that seems to be failing us so many people struggle just to get by.

Stunts like what happened when Trump encouraged his supporters to come here and contest the election are not only dangerous, but make the US look weak to the rest of the world. It appears we cannot even secure our own Capitol, which other countries used to view as invincible.

When the BLM protests took place in the summer, the police had the city on lockdown before anyone could think of doing anything. Those protests had true meaning. Meanwhile Trump supporters act like spoiled brats that can’t get their way. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican because I believe both parties are the same – they just have slightly different approaches for how they want to control the world.

When I was in high school, government was the class I disliked the most because of who the laws left out and how they were built off a racist culture that looks down on others. Our government is saturated with older individuals that are stuck in their ways and complacent with the values that were on full display the day the Capitol was breached.

It’s time for a change. And for others to start accepting the harsh reality that no one will ever have things 100 per cent in their favour. Let’s come together and help those that are ready to help themselves and our society by displaying positive mentalities.

Street Sense vendor Queenie Featherstone

Queenie Featherstone, Street Sense artist and vendor

To me it was hell and stressful. Not necessarily because of the evilness of the Trump supporters, because as I still had to carry on with my errands that day, I still would say “hello” to the Trump supporters that I saw, trying to be nice and kind. Even though we understand the evilness behind their intentions and their being here, I feel you still should be nice somewhat, not bring about more hatred.

But the part that stressed me badly was that because of the curfew at six o’clock, we all had to go home or stay at home. I am always out and about doing things, running errands, helping others. I felt I had to be forced to go into a shelter that’s bad for me. The shelter is bad and stressful for me. I felt like I was locked in somewhere.

That was the stressful and the hurtful part. I tried to sleep, write some poetry — I wanted to write an article — so I tried to keep myself busy in this room at the shelter. Because of the rioters and the nature of the event, they forced us again to do something not so pleasing and stop our daily activities.

To be having to be there at 6 o’clock, amongst the people who live at the shelter, to me it was terror. To me it’s more terror at the shelter than walking through the Trump supporters. Because as I was walking through the Trump supporters I would nod and say “welcome”. I was almost a little at peace, even though we knew their intentions. But then to have to go into the shelter at 6 o’clock, it made me sick.

With thanks to INSP and Street Sense