Capitol crimes

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President Donald Trump should be removed from office, either by the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or resignation. He was already a destructive force to our republic long before Wednesday’s insurrection inside the U.S. Capitol, but his words inciting that riot and then delaying a response by the National Guard to restore order are disgusting and despicable. He and his close allies — Rudy Guiliani, Donald Trump Jr., Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley — need to be held responsible for their actions as well.

Let’s call it what it was — domestic terrorism.

Many of you have questioned our decision to publish an interview with Steve Gallas, an Oak Bluffs man who traveled to Washington, D.C., and was an eyewitness to some of what happened that day.

We pushed back repeatedly during our hourlong interview with Gallas about what occurred on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at the Capitol. But we can’t put words in his mouth. Yes, we published his skewed vision of what happened, but it wasn’t without the context of the horror we all saw live on television. Listening to the feedback we received — and appreciate — we have rewritten the headline and subhead so it better reflects that this is one person’s view, and certainly not the opinion of this newspaper.

The interview with Gallas includes the important information that despite what he says he saw, there were five deaths, scores of people did breach and storm the Capitol, and that leaders like Congressman Keating, who was inside the building that day, are referring to it as an insurrection.

But to ignore that people like Gallas live in our community would be a disservice to our readers. And if you think he’s alone, you’re not paying attention. Nearly 20 percent of Vineyard voters supported Trump in the Nov. 3 election.

Gallas claimed to us that he is not a Trump supporter, though his fervent defense of those gathered in Washington that day belies his comments. We can say that here, on our opinion pages, but it doesn’t have a place in our news reporting.

Gallas told us he remained outside the building, though he does acknowledge going through the barricades without any pushback from Capitol Police. That’s another important point. We’ve heard and seen that police did not arrest many of the people who stormed the Capitol. We’ve also seen the photographs and footage of police taking selfies with the insurgents. That’s not OK, and it needs to be an important part of the ongoing investigation into what happened that day.

We also need answers as to why there wasn’t heightened security in the nation’s capital that day. We did and could see this coming. More should have been done ahead of time to protect the U.S. senators, representatives, and their staffs who were doing important work that day in certifying the election of Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. Not to mention the journalists who courageously shifted gears from covering the certification process to covering an attack on the U.S. Capitol. Video footage shows a long line of the criminals walking past a door with a handwritten message, “Murder the media.” We were disgusted to see other footage of Trump supporters destroying the equipment of journalists.

Many people, including Michelle Obama, have pointed out the discrepancy in how the mostly white rioters were treated juxtaposed with how police have treated Black Lives Matter supporters. In her statement after the riot, she pointed out that the criminals were allowed to walk out “not in handcuffs, but free to carry on with their days.
“It left me with so many questions — questions about the future, questions about security, extremism, propaganda, and more. But there’s one more question I just can’t shake: What if these rioters had looked like the folks who go to Ebenezer Baptist Church every Sunday? What would have been different?”

Locally, we included comments from Island activists on that same topic.

“I was watching these police handle this mob with kid gloves,” Dana Nunes, who organized daily Black Lives Matter vigils at Beetlebung Corner, told us. “Did you see one baton raised there? Yes, they used them to push back, but they were pushing back nicely,” Nunes said. “If this was a mob of Black people, they would have run out of bullets, and they would have run out early.”

We agree, and that may be one of the lasting images of this dreadful assault. We need to do much better, and we have a long way to go to find the answers.

Back to Gallas. Shooting the messenger is as old as history itself. Emissaries sent back and forth between warring countries faced the wrath of their king if they returned with bad news. In “Antony and Cleopatra,” Cleopatra is incensed when a messenger tells her that Antony has married someone else. “Gracious madam, I that do bring the news made not the match,” the envoy tells her.

We understand people don’t like the message Gallas brought back from Washington. We understand that it’s a twisted perspective of what happened that day and who is responsible for the violence.

We shared it with you, but that doesn’t mean we agree with it. We don’t.

  • Your defense of publishing Gallas’ observations as news is just pathetic! You may as well have interviewed me, I was in Edgartown on Wed and everyone around me was peaceful as well. Gallas could have written a letter to the Editor and you wouldn’t be getting this blowback. All you did was attempt to publish propaganda as news, it wasn’t. Just because Gallas had enough sense to stay away from the actual violence doesn’t mean you should publish his absurd claims that it didn’t exist or happen.

  • You print the solution to the problem of your own making right here. That account belonged in the opinion pages. Not the news pages. How showing one person’s biased, untrained perspective helps people understand Trump supporters more is beyond me. You can spin this any way you want. It was an unwise, tone deaf mistake to publish that in the first place. Do better!

  • After 4 years, we all know there are people who deny anything negative about Trump and decry it as fake news. You were not shining a light on that. You were giving it a microphone. There was nothing compelling you to write that story, you made a decision to write it, minimizing the violence. Writing the story you wrote with no push back was taking a side. The main story of that day was not the protest that Bob Gallas attended, but the storming the capital… Congress being halted, and fearing for their lives, as armed rioters were attempting to get them. Pipe bombs. A murdered police officer… You say “don’t shoot the messenger.” but if Paul Revere had chose not to warn, “the British are coming!” and instead said, “It’s a lovely, peaceful night tonight!” what punishment would he deserve?

  • Nope, not good enough, Mr. Brennan. Thou protesteth too much, and falsely.

    If one rereads your original Gallas interview article, entitled “‘This was not a huge angry mob’” it is clear that your original piece was not in the least balanced. It gave voice to a person whose viewpoint deserved no attention. You gave him a platform less than TWO DAYS after a violent, deadly assault on our Congress and our democracy — after the Speaker of the House of Representatives had spent two hours under a table with her colleagues as protesters pounded on the door.

    Other than the passing reference to Rep Keating’s comments, the entire article endorsed Gallas’ warped point of view: “People were really calm. They weren’t violent. It was nice, casual. It was lowkey.”

    From your article: “Footage shot by Gallas — before, during, and after the breach inside — bears out his story. People are milling about as a group of police officers on bicycles ride by in one of the clips. Most of his clips show people chanting and waving flags, but no violence.”

    “Bears out his story”??? Mr. Brennan, the flags they waved were mostly confederate flags, which had never been present inside the United States Capitol until January 6, 2021, including during the Civil War.

    You say: “But to ignore that people like Gallas live in our community would be a disservice to our readers.” Really, that is your explanation?

    Your readers deserve an apology, not weak excuses. The First Amendment, people often forget, does not require the MV Times, or any entity, to give a megaphone to anyone. You made a choice, a very bad one, and you should acknowledge it.

  • Stop playing the victim. You decided to run a “twisted perspective” (your words) as a news piece. You chose to give disinformation a platform. No one twisted your arm. Your decision to run this, is at the very least, about as tone deaf as one can get.

  • I am a little confused by this editorial, it seems to fall into a nebulous gray area between defensiveness and backpedaling without fully being either. I love the MV TIMES- I’ve been reading it since it first came out and I wrote a letter to the editor last year encouraging people to subscribe and support local journalism. I still believe that. I also think it’s also a two-way street, and to be worthy of our continued financial support, the paper needs to uphold high standards of journalism. I feel the original article fell short of those standards. No one is perfect, and all of us fall short of our personal and professional ideals at some point. Lord knows, I’ve done it too many times to count. That said, I hope this article serves as the impetus for some course correction in terms of the structuring and focus of articles. There’s so much wonderful work in the MV Times and hopefully we will continue to see more of it

  • One thing I learned as a newspaper journalist is never let a source control the story. You could have written the headline “Oak Bluffs man confirms Capitol police did little to stop mob.” It’s true and more representative of what actually happened. Maybe that’s not sensational enough for you? You chose instead to minimize a horrific event. Shame on you.

  • “Gallas told us he remained outside the building, though he does acknowledge going through the barricades without any pushback from Capitol police.”

    Aww, shucks. When did Mr. Gallas decide his story was so compelling he just had to share it with the lying media he decries in his interview, and why? Pre-emptive damage control after he saw others were being arrested for breaching Capitol boundaries?

  • Note to editor: I await approval and posting of my very reasonable and well written comment from earlier today. I am sorry if you do not like my words. Clearly you prefer those from Mr. Gallas.

  • This response from the MV Times is PATHETIC! You have a tin ear. I would have more faith in this newspaper if you took responsibility for your mistake of making it a “news article” versus a letter to the editor. I for one am cancelling my subscription to your paper. You really don’t get it!

    • Hear, hear! Perhaps this clarification should have been elevated to a news story so more people could see it, but it seems like the Times reserves those spots for stories that generate clicks, even when they are grossly slanted opinion pieces.

      I’ve cancelled my subscription.

  • I think I appreciate what you were trying to do, as misplaced as it was. My biggest fear is that there are calls for more
    “protests” this weekend, in DC. and in every state capital. If the number of those hate spewing anti-Semitic deplorables is as large as it appears, and if 20% really did vote for Trump here in this bastion of democracy, I really do fear for our future. Our country has become a laughingstock around the world.

  • While it is certainly futile to hold one’s hand up against an avalanche, as an American, I am compelled to advise love and understanding.
    Try to open your hearts and embrace those who hold opposing views.
    We must try to unite as a county.

  • Mr. Gallas’ point of view was not deserving of an article and interview. If he wanted a voice in the paper he should have written a letter to the editor, as any of us would. There is a fine line between reporting the news and providing a platform for disinformation as we have all learned with disastrous consequences for this country in the past four years. I think you really need to take a hard look at how you handled the article, take some responsibility and use it to grow in your journalistic skills instead of trying to justify it. You have grown tremendously in professionalism in the twenty years plus that I have been reading your paper, it is time to take it up a notch.

  • I think this “explanation” is pathetic. We aren’t mad about the article because we don’t like Mr. Gallas, or because we’re shocked that 20% of our neighbors supported Trump in the election (we’re not clueless, most people who live here know that). We’re mad because you elevated to the level of news (with a clickbait-y headline, on the front page) a completely inaccurate and dangerous version of the insurrection that happened at our Capitol last week. When your newspaper minimizes what really happened (by promoting the viewpoint of someone who minimizes it) you bear responsibility. I am disappointed.

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