Gandhi, Seabrook and the Capitol March

Let me share my perspective on the January 6th march on the Capitol. I come into this with an understanding of the value of our right to protest when we disagree with our government. But, there was something different about the protest rally held in Washington, DC on January 6th. I contrast it to a protest I was involved in at the Seabrook nuclear power plant on New Hampshire’s marshy coast in May 1977.

I was part of a movement to stop the building of a twin nuclear power facility; the protestors in DC on the 6th were part of a movement to stop the counting of presidential electors by congress. Both were planned and organized ahead of time. The difference was that the Seabrook protestors had to attend non-violent, civil disobedience tactics classes given by the organizers, the Clamshell Alliance – named for the clams in the marshy bogs surrounding the town of Seabrook, NH. 

The DC protestors were provoked to storm the capitol without being trained in non-violent tactics. Revisionists are already floating the idea that most people attended the DC protest merely to support the president, but conveniently omit the advertising and organizational leaflets blatantly telling them to be strong and forcefully stop the counting of elector ballots – “Stop the Steal.” In the end, no injuries or property damage was incurred at Seabrook, but five deaths and utter mayhem was reported from the capitol. 

Keene Sentinel reporter Ernest Hebert quoted me saying afterwards that, “A few police got irritable for a while there, but it didn’t last long: and, on the whole, they treated us well.” You see, at Seabrook, protestors sat in groups singing, passively going limp when the police dragged them away. Contrast that with the march on the Capitol, where protestors were the aggressors, killing five, breaking windows and furniture, and defecating in the halls where portraits of Americana is hung.

Gandhi and John Lennon were right about passive resistance: the authorities don’t know what to do with you. The protest at Seabrook was marginally successful in that only one of the twin towers were built. In DC, the counting resumed and a new president was affirmed – nothing changed. 

My penalty was a $100 fine and a misdemenor record I have to explain every five years when I reapply for my justice of the peace certification. But, that’s okay. Capitol protestors will be charged with a felony and, ironically, be forever barred from owning a firearm. But, the worst of the capitol march is the damage done to the American psyche and our sense of right and wrong.


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