Military veterans organize to clean up DC streets after Capitol riot
A group of roughly 200 veterans and other volunteers participated in a clean-up event near Capitol Hill on Sunday in an effort to rid the area of trash, debris and graffiti following the deadly riot last week that overtook the U.S. Capitol.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that the group was organized by David Smith, a Navy veteran, who told the newspaper that he was incensed to hear reports of veterans among the mob that stormed the Capitol last week.
Smith, who founded an organization that links social justice-minded veterans to community activism called Continue to Serve, told the Post that his group encountered neo-Nazi imagery and other signs of far-right groups during their cleanup.
He touted the clean-up effort, saying, “There was so much good energy, especially in the fallout of something so negative.”
Thank you to everyone who came out to help us pick up trash yesterday!!#vetsforblm #January6th #CapitolRiot #volunteer #WashingtonDC #demanddemocracy #DefendDemocracy #fightfascismhttps://t.co/gkRaySQEYN
— Continue to Serve (@continuetoserve) January 11, 2021
While Smith and his fellow volunteers assisted in the city’s cleanup effort outside the Capitol by removing signs in support of President Trump and other debris, the pro-Trump signs and other items left by rioters inside the Capitol building will be instead preserved as historical artifacts, according to the House Administration Committee.
One of the most potentially significant artifacts to be preserved from the riot is Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) splintered nameplate, which rioters were seen brandishing during the attack.
The Jan. 6 riot saw Capitol Police quickly overwhelmed by hundreds of rioters hours after the president at a nearby rally urged his supporters to press GOP lawmakers into supporting his attempt to overturn the 2020 election results.
Five people died amid the chaos on Capitol Hill, including a Capitol Police officer who sustained injuries responding to the mob and a woman who was shot by police while attempting to climb through a broken window. Several others died from what police described as medical emergencies.
Trump has called for calm in the days following the rioting and leading up to President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration next week as law enforcement agencies across the country brace for more potential violence.