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Iowans Reflect On Insurrection In The U.S. Capitol

Matt Slocum/AP
The U.S. Capitol is seen the day after violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Congress, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021, in Washington.

The day after pro-Trump extremists broke into the U.S. Capitol to disrupt Congress' certification of U.S. electoral college results, Iowans are still processing what it all means. This hour, we reflect and consider how best to move forward.

Co-hosts Charity Nebbe and Ben Kieffer talk with leaders from across the state to put the events of January 6, 2021, in historical context, to consider the political implications and to offer insight into how the predominantly white mob was treated differently by law enforcement than largely peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters over the summer.

We heard from many listeners who were still angry and sad about what they witnessed, and what it means for our country and our government.

Lora emailed this: "I don't have the background or experience to offer solutions or discuss the constitutional repercussions of events yesterday. This is just a snapshot of one of the variety of emotions I experienced as events unfolded. We live in a small town in Johnson County. Ours are not the only Black Lives Matter signs in yards around town, but there are just a few. I don't know about all the others, but ours have been vandalized, torn out of our yard, and even stolen - presumably by others in the community. I am not a fearful person, but as I drove home from work last evening I found myself wondering if they might have been stolen again, or things thrown through our windows, or worse. I couldn't have imagined this a short time ago, but now it seems all too real a possibility, due to the divisions this president has fomented. And it broke my heart that those thoughts would even come to me."

Donna wrote from near Kalona: "One of the rhetorical comments I heard several times from leadership yesterday was that “this is not who we (Americans) are.” And yet, reality is telling us that in fact this IS who we now are — not all of us, but enough of us that such a remark is empty and unhelpful. Far better to ask if this is the kind of nation we want to be."

And Jim in Grinnell offered this: "I felt extremely violated when a mob, egged on by the President, attacked my beloved country. The video of a Black, Capitol policeman, armed only with a stick, being chased up the steps of the Capitol by a racist mob will stay with me for a long time. I am a political moderate, not a radical activist. I will do all I can as a Christian for the rest of my life to confront racism for the sake of my children, grandchildren, and the future of my nation. I have never been in a street protest, but one of my sons and I have agreed that we will take to the streets if Trump refuses to leave office. I am praying fervently for our nation and its future."


  • Tim Walch, historian and director emeritus of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
  • Donna Hoffman, professor of political science at University of Northern Iowa
  • State Representative Ras Smith from Waterloo
  • James Leach, former Iowa congressman, former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities
  • Jim McCormick, professor of political science at Iowa State University
  • Kesho Scott, associate professor of American studies and sociology at Grinnell College


Ben Kieffer is the host of IPR's River to River
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Katelyn Harrop is a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Matthew was a producer for IPR's River to River and Talk of Iowa
Rick Brewer was a producer for IPR's Talk of Iowa and River to River
Katherine Perkins is IPR's Program Director for News and Talk