Canadians watched the frightening scene as a mob of pro-Donald Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, leading to responses of horror and sadness.
American Dr. Janni Aragon is currently the Director of Technology and Society at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, with a history in teaching gender studies and political science. Aragon told Yahoo Canada she is “disappointed” with the U.S. Capitol chaos, particularly with how police seemingly used “kid gloves” against these domestic terrorists.
“We've witnessed with the protests after George Floyd was murdered, during the [Brett] Kavanaugh hearings and once he was appointed to the Supreme Court, the tough if not militaristic response that the police and other state authorities had against these protesters,” she said. “Let alone the way in which Black Lives Matters protesters have been treated when their attempt was to have non-violent protest.”
“This is a great, and I use ‘great’ in a negative way, example of white male privilege and what it is afforded because make no mistake, if this was a Black Lives Matter organized protest they would have never made it in the door, and the number of fatalities and injured would have another zero. It wouldn’t be four dead, it would be 40 dead and...hundreds jailed or incarcerated.”
Dr. Aragon agreed with people on social media calling out that what happened in the U.S. could happen in Canada.
Many Canadians were quick to point that out with “As a Canadian” trending on Twitter on Wednesday.
As a Canadian...I acknowledge that white supremacy IS Canadian too.
We've literally got protests happening in multiple cities across the country right now.
Don't be confused...white supremacy is as Canadian as maple syrup.
— Naheed Dosani (@NaheedD) January 6, 2021
As a Canadian, I live on stolen land, where race is the number one predictor of poverty, Indigenous girls vanish, places of worship are vandalized, police brutality disproportionately affects BIPOC, & leaders refuse to accept that systemic racism is real.
It can happen here too.
— Amit Arya (@AmitAryaMD) January 7, 2021
As a "Canadian", I recognize that white supremacy and domestic terrorism isnt bound by borders. There are protests in Vancouver and Toronto right now. Dont watch the US as if this cant and wont happen here.
— Jana Jandal Alrifai (@JanaJAlrifai) January 6, 2021
If fact, a number of smaller demonstrations occurred on Wednesday as the attack went on at the U.S. Capitol.
In Toronto, a group of vehicles advertised as “Canadians for President Trump” with “stop the steal” messaging moved across city streets.
Demonstrators with Trump and Canadian flags also gathered in at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Wednesday, moving near the U.S. consulate and the Trump Hotel.
The protest turned violent with CBC News photographer Ben Nelms being assaulted by a protester who charged at him and punched him in the face.
Unprovoked violence against anyone, including members of the media is wrong. Thanks everyone for the support, I’m doing well. pic.twitter.com/rJ9No7CJxy
— Ben Nelms (@Ben_Nelms) January 7, 2021
"He was upset that I, along with other members of the media, were taking pictures and reporting the event," Nelms said in a CBC News story. "Physical violence against members of the media is wrong and doesn't just happen outside of Canada, but here in Vancouver."
Similar events occurred in Alberta with protesters present in both Calgary and Red Deer. People were holding signs that read statements including “Canadians for Trump,” “drain the swamp” and “we are part of the Trump train.”
Hate groups in Canada and the impact of social media
Back in June 2020, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue published a report that indicated in recent years, the number of hate groups operating in Canada has tripled.
“Central to this increase in activity is the use of social media,” the report reads.
“It provides avenues for a broad spectrum of right-wing extremists to mobilize by recruiting new members, broadcasting disinformation and propaganda, harassing opponents, and co-ordinating activity including publicity stunts, protests and acts of violence.”
The Institute for Strategic Dialogue identified 6,600 Canadian right-wing extremist channels, pages, groups and accounts across Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Iron March, Fascist Forge, 4chan and Gab.
U.S. President Donald Trump has now been banned from Facebook and Instagram and was blocked by Twitter on Wednesday night after concerns about him provoking violence, but Dr. Aragon agreed these actions are “a little too late.”
“We have learned so much during these last four years, in terms of unfettered access to the media with lots of lies, or misinformation being spread at the hands of not only the president but his acolytes,” she said. “There's lots of lies being told and so I'm looking forward to a breath of fresh air with the next administration.”
“Seeing people be more responsible...elected officials both in Canada and the U.S., being more responsible with what they tweet or post on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok.”
Dr. Aragon added that she has been “energized” to see Millennials and Generation Z ok TikTok “giving receipts” for what officials are doing.