No Longer the People’s House

Growing up around and living in Washington DC in the 1980’s and 90’s I have attended many dozens of events in our Nation’s Capitol, including protests (usually just for something to do and see). Most people forget that in the 1980’s and 90’s DC was like an urban wild west, it was the murder capital of America and extremely dangerous… but it was liberating and fun! During Earth Day 1990, I climbed a statue and sat in a bronze saddle watching Billy Bragg (punk/folk) right in front of the Capitol building. Even as a dumb teenager I had a sense of awe for the freedom I felt during numerous moments in D.C.. DC was a gritty Grecian like fantasy-land where people could be free and do a lot crazy shit. Protests, which were regular and came in various sizes, frequently got emotionally charged. The World Bank and IMF protests had an very intense edge. This happens when you get a lot of emotionally charged people together who can be fueled by drugs or alcohol, not uncommon.

For a time I worked on Capitol Hill, where I would visit the Capitol during lunch breaks. In the late 90’s you could just walk in, it was open to the general public. It was referred to as the People’s House, allowing access was part of the ethos. It was a really cool thing to do.

When I saw the January 6th stuff it was not shocking for me with my associations of the place, as I had similar liberating experiences in DC when I was young. Hell, I have watched the 4th of July Fireworks from the reflecting pool on psychedelics, danced around bonfires to live punk music in the park next to Lincoln Memorial, and experienced the National Mall to the fullest. I have seen a lot of people express themselves in DC and get a little out of hand, but that is part of the exhilaration. This allows people to get a cathartic release. The January 6 unarmed ‘insurrection’ came at the end of a full day of emotionally charged protests. The protesters were let into what was formerly known as the People’s House, where a few adults behaved like stupid teens on drugs.

Barricading the Capitol and hysteria after January 6 was the point. This sent a message, this building is no longer the People’s House.