WATCH: An Ethiopian Immigrant’s Perspective on Chaos at US Capitol

While most Americans have never seen anything like what happened at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, the scene was sadly familiar for some immigrants and refugees. “What just happened today in the Capitol, just kind of reminds me of what our parents went through... in the 70s,” said Endale Getahun, who immigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. in the early 1980s, when he was 10 years old [and now] runs an immigrant and refugee-focused community radio station in Aurora, Colorado. (ABC News)

Channel 13, ABC News Now

AURORA, Colo. — Immigrants who came to America fleeing political upheaval and violence in their home countries saw political violence on American soil Wednesday.

For many, it was shocking.

“What just happened today in the Capitol, just kind of reminds me of what our parents went through… in the 70s,” said Endale Getahun, who immigrated from Ethiopia to the U.S. in the early 1980s, when he was 10 years old.

Getahun describes that as a time of political upheaval and conflict in his home country. Conflict continues today, with recent violence between the country’s government and the region of Tigray.

Like so many other immigrants, Getahun’s family came to America looking for peace and stability. Watching images of chaos on Wednesday was unsettling.

“I think it’s very shocking, to happen in this world, in a democratic country, which welcomes everyone to be safe from chaos – not just from Ethiopia but all over the world. The United States is a symbol of democracy, freedom, a dream to achieve,” he said.

Getahun runs an immigrant and refugee-focused community radio station in Aurora, KETO FM. He said Wednesday, the conversation covered the U.S. Capitol takeover.

Getahun can offer an immigrant’s perspective on those developments.

“The other side of the world has experienced this kind of chaotic government takeover and the U.S. was the one that comes back and helps those countries,” he said. “So I think this is a very testing moment for all of us, including the American citizens as well.”

Getahun said it’s up to U.S. leaders, specifically President Donald Trump, to calm the country and ensure people are safe.

“Words matter,” he said.

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    World Watches US Chaos with Shock, Dismay and Some Mockery

    The Associated Press

    PARIS (AP) — As the world watched American institutions shaken to the core by an angry mob, officials and ordinary citizens wondered: How fragile is democracy, and how much stress could their own political systems withstand?

    “If it can happen in the U.S., it can happen anywhere,” said Gunjan Chhibber, a 39-year-old who works for an American tech company in India, the world’s largest democracy. She stayed up all night, watching and worrying at her home in Delhi as the chaos unfolded many time zones away.

    In Germany, whose modern system of governance was nurtured by successive American administrations, Chancellor Angela Merkel was unusually blunt Thursday, drawing a direct line from President Donald Trump’s refusal to concede his election defeat to the atmosphere that made the storming of the U.S. Capitol by his supporters possible.

    “A fundamental rule of democracy is that, after elections, there are winners and losers. Both have to play their role with decency and responsibility so that democracy itself remains the winner,” Merkel said.

    Eva Sakschewska, a German who followed the news closely, said the events in Washington were almost inconceivable.

    “You can only fear how far this can go when populists come to power and do such things,” she said. “You know that in the U.S., democracy has a long history and that it comes to something like that – yes one is afraid.”

    Even the United Nations offered up the kind of statement usually reserved for fragile democracies, expressing sadness and calling on unidentified political leaders to foster respect for “democratic processes and the rule of law.”

    In Iraq, where the violent U.S.-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003 led to years of sectarian conflict and a deeply flawed democracy, many watched and marveled at the scenes unfolding in Congress.

    Iraqis have suffered for years under power-sharing arrangements among competing elites divided along sectarian lines. Backroom deals are common to avoid political paralysis, and democratic ideals have been tainted by an entrenched system of patronage through which state jobs are doled out in exchange for support. Political parties also have affiliated militias that wield significant power on the street. From afar, the violence in Washington had a contemptible familiarity.

    “Iraq calls on the U.S. regime to respect the principles of democracy, or it will intervene militarily to bring down the dictator,” said Mustafa Habib, a well-known Iraqi analyst and researcher, in a tweet that mocked Washington’s actions abroad.

    Venezuela, which is under U.S. sanctions, said the events showed that the U.S. “is suffering what it has generated in other countries with its politics of aggression.”

    Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has survived U.S.-backed opposition efforts to oust him despite accusations of human rights abuses, civil unrest and a humanitarian crisis that has forced millions to flee the oil-rich country.

    “We exported so much democracy that we don’t have any left,” American-Palestinian scholar Yousef Monayyer wrote on Twitter, the social network favored by Trump until he was locked out of it late Wednesday.

    His comment joined the growing strain of sarcasm bordering on schadenfreude from those who have long resented the perceived American tendency to chastise other countries for less-than-perfect adherence to democratic ideals.

    This time, however, it was an attempt by Americans to stop a peaceful transition of power to President-elect Joe Biden after a democratic election in a country that many around the world have looked at as a model for democratic governance.

    In China, which has had constant friction with Washington over trade, as well as military and political issues, people were scathing in their criticism of Trump and his supporters, citing both the coronavirus pandemic and the mob action.

    Communist-ruled China has long accused the U.S. of hypocrisy in its efforts to promote democracy and advocate for human rights overseas.

    The Communist Youth League ran a photo montage of the Capitol violence on its Twitter-like Weibo microblog with the caption: “On the sixth, the U.S. Congress, a most beautiful site to behold.” That appeared to mock House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her June 2019 comments in praise of sometimes- violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

    “The U.S. is not as safe as China, right? I think Trump is a self-righteous and selfish person,” said financial adviser Yang Ming.

    Iran, which faces routine U.S. criticism over violations of human rights and democratic values, jumped on the chaos as proof of American hypocrisy.

    The semiofficial Fars news agency called the United States a “fragmented democracy,” while Iran’s pro-government Twitter accounts gloated, circulating photos of the mobs with hashtags that included #DownfalloftheUS.

    The events tarnished the American insistence that it is a bastion of democracy for countries that have only in recent decades, in some cases, given up autocratic or military-controlled forms of government.

    “The beauty of democracy?” with a shrug emoji was the reaction tweeted by Bashir Ahmad, a personal assistant to the president of Nigeria, which has seen several coups since independence — including one led decades ago by President Muhammadu Buhari, who was elected to office in 2015.

    Some legislatures in Asia — South Korea and Taiwan, for instance — have at times been marred by brawls and screaming matches, but democracies throughout the region are normally staid versions of European and American lawmaking models.

    “This is shocking. I hope this will serve as chance for the Americans to review their democracy,” said Na HyunPil at the Korean House for International Solidarity, a Seoul-based NGO. “Trump is entirely responsible for this incident. After his four-year rule, the Americans find it difficult to tell other countries that their country is a good model for democracy.”

    Several countries, both U.S. allies and antagonists, issued travel warnings to their citizens, although with coronavirus infections soaring in the United States, arrivals from abroad are down to a trickle.

    Ally after ally expressed shock, followed by affirmations that U.S. democratic institutions would withstand the turmoil.

    “All my life, America has stood for some very important things: an idea of freedom and an idea of democracy,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. “Insofar as he encouraged people to storm the Capitol, and insofar as the president has consistently cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election, I believe that was completely wrong.”

    But some, like European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, warned that the attempt to halt a peaceful transition in what many consider the world’s oldest democracy showed that no place is immune and that backsliding is reversed only with difficulty.

    “Democracy is never self-evident. It has to be worked on each and every day. It has to be won anew every day. And that applies to all democracies,” she told German news outlets. And that’s why we know that it starts as a very small thing.”

    For others, less friendly, it was portrayed as a last gasp and one that belonged solely to Americans themselves.

    “American democracy is obviously limping on both feet,” said Konstantin Kosachev, head of the foreign affairs committee in Russia’s upper house of parliament. “I say this without a shadow of gloating. America no longer charts a course and therefore has lost all rights to set it — and even more so to impose it on others.”

    ‘Moment of Shame’: Former US Presidents Condemn The Violent Mob Spectacle in DC


    Obama, Bush, Clinton, Carter all condemn the Trump supporter riots. (Photos: AP and Getty Images)

    Politico

    Former Presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter on Wednesday each condemned the mob of rioters who stormed the U.S. Capitol — and lawmakers who sought to delegitimize the presidential election results beforehand.

    “It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight,” Bush said in a statement. “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”

    Obama said the insurrection, in which at least one person died, will be remembered as “a moment of great dishonor and shame” and that his successor, President Donald Trump, is culpable. He also faulted the Republican Party and the right-wing media ecosystem for the role they played in casting doubt on the integrity of recent elections.

    “Their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments,” Obama said in a statement. “Now we’re seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo.”

    Bush similarly said the rioters who breached the building and remained there for hours were “inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes.”

    “I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement,” the 43rd president said.

    Clinton said the seizure of parts of the Capitol was the disastrous result of “poison politics” and the proliferation of misinformation. But he said it did not shake his fundamental belief in the decency of the American people.

    “If that’s who we really are, we must reject today’s violence, turn the page, and move forward together—honoring our Constitution, remaining committed to a government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” Clinton said.

    Bush also urged people upset about the recent elections to stand down for the sake of American democracy.

    “Our country is more important than the politics of the moment,” Bush said. “Let the officials elected by the people fulfill their duties and represent our voices in peace and safety.”

    Carter denounced the day’s events as a “national tragedy” and “not who we are as a nation.” In a statement released by the Carter Center, the former president said he and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter were troubled by the violence and hoped for Americans to come together to resolve the conflict.

    Carter’s statement notably did not assign blame for the Capitol riots.

    “Having observed elections worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must,” the statement said. “We join our fellow citizens in praying for a peaceful resolution so our nation can heal and complete the transfer of power as we have for more than two centuries.”

    The mass of rioters began to breach the Capitol earlier Wednesday, disrupting the vote certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump and further delaying what was already expected to become a days-long affair after Republican members of Congress challenged Biden’s win in several states. The building was cleared by the evening and Congress has returned to continue its duties.

    However, Bush and Carter did not mention Trump — who has promoted false claims of rampant election fraud and embraced anti-democratic attempts stay in power — or anyone else by name in their dispatch. Bush, the most recent Republican president prior to Trump, has largely been careful not to publicly criticize the party’s present standard-bearer.

    Obama and Clinton, both Democrats, were far more explicit in faulting Trump for his role in instigating the unrest.

    “The match was lit by Donald Trump and his most ardent enablers, including many in Congress, to overturn the results of an election he lost,” Obama said. “The election was free, the count was fair, the result is final. We must complete the peaceful transfer of power our Constitution mandates.”

    Trump has continued to speak favorably of the rioters, calling them “very special” and “great patriots” in several tweets that have since been removed by Twitter.

    “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump wrote on Twitter in one such message. “Remember this day forever!”

    Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol, with one woman killed and tear gas fired

    The Washington Post

    As President Trump told a sprawling crowd outside the White House that they should never accept defeat, hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in what amounted to an attempted coup that they hoped would overturn the election he lost. In the chaos, law enforcement officials said, one woman was shot and killed by police.

    The violent scene — much of it incited by the president’s incendiary language — was like no other in modern American history, bringing to a sudden halt the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory.

    With poles bearing blue Trump flags, a mob that would eventually grow into the thousands bashed through Capitol doors and windows, forcing their way past police officers unprepared for the onslaught. Lawmakers were evacuated shortly before an armed standoff at the House chamber’s entrance. The woman who was shot was rushed to an ambulance, police said, and later died. Canisters of tear gas were fired across the Rotunda’s white marble floor, and on the steps outside the building, rioters flew Confederate flags.

    The Senate stopped its proceedings, and the House doors were closed. In a notification, U.S. Capitol Police said no one would be allowed to come or go from the building as they struggled to regain control. “Stay away from exterior windows, doors. If outside, seek cover,” police warned.

    All 1,100 members of the D.C. National Guard were activated, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) imposed a citywide curfew. From 6 p.m. Wednesday to 6 a.m. Thursday, Bowser said, no one other than essential personnel would be allowed outdoors in the city.

    The mob had arrived hours earlier, charging past the metal barricades on the property’s outer edge. Hundreds, then thousands followed them. Some scaled the Capitol’s walls to reach entrances; others climbed over one another.

    On the building’s east side, police initially pushed the pro-Trump demonstrators back but soon gave up and fell back to the foot of the main steps. Within a half-hour, fights broke out again, and police retreated to the top of the stairs as screaming Trump supporters surged closer. After police perimeters were breached, the elated crowd began to sing the national anthem.

    For an hour, they banged on the doors, chanting, “Let us in! Let us in!” Police inside fired pepper balls and smoke bombs into the crowd but failed to turn them away. After each volley, the rioters, who were mostly White men, would cluster around the doors again, yelling, arguing, pledging revolution.

    Sometime after 2:10 p.m., a man used a clear plastic riot shield to break through the windows on a first floor to the south side of the building, then hopped in with a few others. Once inside, police suspect, rioters opened doors to let in more of their compatriots.

    A police officer yelled from a higher stairway at the intruders, ordering them to stop, but when they didn’t, the officer fired at a man coming at him, two law enforcement officials said. Amid shouts and people rushing to get away from the sound of gunfire, rioters saw a woman in their group collapse. Police believe she was unarmed, a law enforcement official said, but the officer who shot her did not know that. Capitol Police had already been warned by D.C. police that many in the crowds were secretly carrying weapons.

    “They shot a girl!” someone yelled as a group of Trump supporters ran out of the southeast entrance.

    A team of paramedics with a gurney soon arrived and a Capitol Police officer stepped aside to let them pass. “White female, shot in the shoulder,” the officer said as they hurried past. They emerged minutes later.

    On the gurney was a woman in jeans, gazing vacantly to one side, her torso and face covered in blood. As the gurney was loaded into the back of the ambulance, pro-Trump rioters swarmed around it, screaming, “Murderers!”

    Capitol Police officers with long guns pushed them back, and the ambulance drove off.

    Inside, where the lawmakers had donned gas masks kept under their chairs, Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) could only think of his family as he and other lawmakers hid from the mob. Reeling from the loss of his 25-year-old son last week, Raskin had taken one of his daughters and his son-in-law to the Capitol to watch the debates unfold over certification of Biden’s election, he said, “because we wanted to be together.” Raskin was helping lead Democrats’ arguments against Republican objectors.

    “I thought I could show them the peaceful transfer of power in the United States of America,” Raskin told C-SPAN earlier. “What was really going through my mind was their safety because they were not with me in the chamber, and I just wanted us all to get back together.”

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