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Radio Diary: Insurrection And A Viral Moment That Brought These D.C. Residents Together

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as they storm the US Capitol in Washington, DC on Jan. 6, 2021. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)

This radio diary is part of our hour on D.C. statehood. Listen here.


On today’s program, we talked about the decades-long debate over whether Washington, D.C. should be granted statehood and the new energy behind that push. We also revisited a moment that reflects a bit of the character of the city of Washington, D.C.

On January 6th, the day of the insurrection, as pro-Trump extremists headed toward the Capitol, they were met by D.C. resident Peter Tracey, who told them exactly what he thought of them. His neighbor, Shawntia Humphries responded from her car.

The video of Peter and Shawntia went viral. And it sparked a friendship between the two residents of D.C. Here they are recalling that day, beginning with Shawntia describing what she saw as she drove past Peter’s house.

SHAWNTIA: “I see Peter, but my window was rolled up. And I didn’t hear what he was saying, but his arm movements and his facial expression, I really was interested. So I rolled the window down.”

PETER: “I’d been watching on TV the joint session that was supposed to be counting the electoral votes. When all of a sudden the cameras shifted and there were these swarms of people coming into the Capitol. Once the people — not people, but I should say basically rioters or seditionists came by the house —  I just went out on the porch and let them have it.”

SHAWNTIA“Me coming home from work and seeing them just walking back through Massachusetts Avenue, waving the flags. Like I’ve been wanting to say something about 20 blocks earlier, you know, but Peter just gave me the ammunition and there it goes.”

SHAWNTIA“It made me feel like damn, I understand and y’all don’t. Why don’t they understand equality? I marched in June for the lives that was lost through police brutality. So I just feel like to see them invade the U.S. Capitol with no consequences at the time, it was just a destruction of peace. It was a slap in our face as Black people.”

PETER: “The beauty of that video, I think, is that it shows that people can communicate with each other.”

SHAWNTIA: “We come from two different backgrounds. I’m a Black young woman. He’s a middle age, you know. We connected and we shared the same values in the video. ”

PETER: “And I hope in my lifetime I never see anything like that again, because D.C. is a welcoming, diverse place. We have our problems. We have many problems. But we respect each other.”

SHAWNTIA: “Yes, we invite everybody.”

PETER: “Exactly.”

SHAWNTIA: “Everybody’s welcome. … I just want everybody just to take the time just to relax and listen, understand people.”

PETER: “Be respectful.”

SHAWNTIA: “Yes. I also want to thank you guys, too, for my 15 minutes of fame.”

PETER: “It’s part of history, and that’s nice and that’s gratifying. But I’m equally glad that I have a friend in Shawntia … ”

SHAWNTIA: “Oh, yeah … It’s going to be years to come.”

In this diary … we hear from:

Peter Tracey and Shawntia Humphries,D.C. residents. Journalist Veronica Westhrin filmed their exchange and posted it on Twitter.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.