Nguyen Thanh Huong, 32, returned to her apartment in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday in shock after learning about the violence in the Capitol, which forced Mayor Muriel Bowser to order a city-wide curfew from 6 p.m. until the next morning.
“I cannot believe this is America, this is shocking and disgusting,” said Huong, a graduate student at the George Washington University, the sounds of sirens blaring as she spoke on the phone. She said her friends in D.C. were deeply saddened to see chaos gripping the city.
“A stain in the history of the nation,” she said.
Pro-Trump protesters storm into the U.S. Capitol during clashes with police in Washington, D.C, January 6, 2021. Photo by Reuters.
The violence happened after the U.S. Congress met on January 6 to certify Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential elections. At the same time, President Donald Trump addressed thousands of demonstrators who had amassed outside the Capitol to cheer his claims of voter fraud and to protest the results. The protest developed into a riot as people pushed past police lines, bypassed security and entered the Capitol, interrupting lawmakers and their meeting.
D.C. Metro police said one woman was shot and killed by police and three others died from medical emergencies. More than 52 people were arrested.
The turmoil has left many Vietnamese in the U.S. aghast and in despair. Many of them said they could not believe protesters were so violent and extreme that they could break into the Capitol building.
“I looked at those photos and I thought they were taken in a banana republic, not in America. It is crazy,” said Le Phat, a Vietnamese residing in Virginia, near Washington, D.C.
Phat, who works for a local bank, said that he does not oppose peaceful protests, “but a riot disrupting a Congress session is unconstitutional.”
Le Thanh Hang, a nurse in California, said she was stunned at the violence. The protestors have attacked the nation’s democracy, she said, adding: “It is disgusting and embarrassing, the most un-American thing I have ever seen in my life.”
Hang and Phat said what shocked them the most was the failure of security forces at the U.S. Capitol to stop the mob from entering the Capitol building, especially considering that the protest had been in the news for weeks and hardline supporters of President Donald Trump had warned of violence.
“One of the most secured buildings in this country was stormed, people streamed into it and even sat on the chair reserved for the Senate’s presiding officer, the police were so weak,” Hang said.
Photos of rioters attacking one of the most recognizable symbols of American power have left many Vietnamese Americans embarrassed.
“It is one of the gravest security lapses in recent history of this nation,” Phat said.
Natural or a false flag operation?
Most members of the Vietnamese diaspora that VnExpress International spoke to blamed President Donald Trump for the mayhem.
“Trump has always talked about law and order, but his words added fuel to the fire, generating an insurrection, violence and acts of treason,” said Pham Quynh Nhi, a Vietnamese American living in Texas.
Many people said that the claims of Trump and his supporters that the elections were rigged were baseless.
“He must think twice before saying anything, because he is not a commoner or a child, and he is not above the law,” Phat said.
In a brief clip published on January 6, Trump told the Capitol rioters to “go home,” but repeatedly claimed that the election was stolen. He also suggested that the riot was a natural consequence of his victory being “stripped away.”
But the media has not reported any evidence of widespread fraud and lawsuits seeking to flip the election results have failed in court.
But many right-wingers claim the riots were a plot against Trump.
“The Democrat Party created the riot to degrade Trump, where will this country go to without Trump?” one Facebooker asked.
Many others agreed, saying lawmakers earn money from taxpayers, “so they deserve riots if they do not follow people’s will.”
Some Vietnamese Trump loyalists said antifa activists had fueled the mob.
“Antifa activists tried to interrupt the Congress meeting so Republicans cannot express their objection to the election results,” a Facebooker fumed.
Julia Ngo, a Trump supporter in California, blamed “left-wingers” who she said had not opposed violence in the Black Lives Matter movement, and antifa activists.
“The riots had been arranged and backed,” she said.
After a day of shocking violence, the Vietnamese diaspora in the U.S. woke up on the morning of January 7 to the news that the Congress has sealed Biden’s victory.
Incumbent Vice President Mike Pence announced that President-elect Joe Biden had won the presidency after Congress completed counting the Electoral College votes, a largely perfunctory last step before the new president’s inauguration.
Trump has since pledged to an orderly transfer of power.
“The chaos of the last four years is going to end, I cannot wait until January 20,” said Huong.
On the other side of the country, Hang also hoped that President Biden and Vice President Harris would bring stability and order to “chaotic D.C.”
She said she would have flown to the capital to watch the inauguration if it were not for the Covid-19 pandemic.