Amy Katz: January 6 Riots (Part 2) [Read Part 1, HERE]
A very psychic friend had posted something about Nevada, right when I was wondering if and where to go. I took that as a sign. My destination: Carson City, the Capitol of Nevada. (I had to look up where the Capitol of Nevada was). As I was leaving the house, I said a prayer, and set these intentions: 1) get the images and stories that will best serve the public, 2) stay safe, and 3) have an adventure I could write home about. (In that order).
On my way, I arrived at the Sacramento Capitol around 8:00 pm on January 16th, the night before the potential terrorist attacks that the FBI was anticipating. There was a formidable fence around the entire building, which has the radius of several blocks. Inside and outside were members of the US National Guard, and police vehicles. It was not nearly the show of force I had seen in some cities, like Louisville, KY, during some of the BLM protests, yet it was impressive. The next morning, security was beefed up even more: now hundreds of law enforcement could be seen standing or patrolling the grounds and neighborhood.
But where was the insurgents? The rioters? How about the peaceful Pro-Trump supporters?
There was one young man standing in front of the fence in a suit, holding an American Flag. The fact that he was alone, with the massive and stately California Capitol building and US military behind him, made for quite the dramatic and uncanny scene. A couple dozen reporters and as many National Guardsmen were milling around, tension as thick as the humid breeze off the river. A formal suit was not quite what I had imagined a Neo-Nazi insurgent wearing, but what did I know? I went to interview him.
Turns out he wasn’t a Trump supporter, or a terrorist. He was a college student in Computer Science who had come with a message of unity and love, for the lawmakers, police and everyone in the universe.
So where were the Trump supporters? The Insurgents? The rebels?
No where! Not a single one!
Later in the day, two giant, steel-colored pickup trucks with Dakota plates, scull and cross bone decals and confederate flags drove by, and a woman, smiling, leaned out the window as she sped past the Capitol. She screamed a war cry out of the window.
That was it.
This was a good lesson. My fear began to lessen. Without a leader egging them on, and with such a show of force by law enforcement, they were too chicken to take a stand. This is why leadership need be held accountable.
Then, I thought of all the people who had come out to protest police brutality in 2019– how many tens of thousands of black citizens had lined the streets and stood nose-to-nose with police and Federal Agents, the very people and institutions most likely to be hostile to their cause; the very people they were protesting! The courage for the unprivileged to act and to use their voices when they knew all too well there would be no Presidential pardons or house arrests for them. The contrast between the courage of those Black-Lives-Matter protestors, and the people who had swarmed the Capitol because they believed the lies they were told, and had believed themselves to be heroes, under the wing of the most powerful man in the world— was immeasurable. My eyes teared up thinking about what true courage is, and how when the truth really is on our side; when a people are truly righteous, they can stand up to the police or the government or anyone, and protest peacefully. This is what the insurgents and their leaders in mayhem didn’t get: “The truth— and only the truth— will set us free”.
Then I drove from Sacramento to Carson City later that day, a two hour drive, and entered the grounds of the Nevada State Capitol. I could not believe my eyes. I didn’t know what to believe! I felt like I was in Bizarro-land; the Twilight Zone. I walked the entire congressional campus, in a state of bafflement. There were no protestors there either, but neither were there policemen. Nobody. Not even one overweight, semi-retired security guard half asleep on a metal folding chair. I walked up to the front door and looked in the thinly plated, glass windows. Not a soul to be seen.
I glanced at my iPhone: the news stories had listed this Capitol as one of the top five targets on the FBI’s watch list for this day, and the day of the Inauguration. I had read that one of the law makers in the state supported a coup, and had tweeted that on this day he knew the Emergency Broadcast system would be activated, and Trump would declare Martial Law, and the US military would be called forth to assure the Republican take-over. Was this part of how it was going to happen? By letting anyone who wanted walk right into the state Capitol, and legislature and Supreme Court buildings — all which were unguarded, as far as any eye could see? Or, did they know something I didn’t? Was there really not a threat, as long as no one was leading them inside?
I took several videos and photos — of nothing.
About an hour later, when still I could not spy a single officer or protestor (but thought I saw a form passing across the foyer deep inside the Capitol building— if it was Guard, or Ghost, I cannot tell you), I went to find a hotel. I started driving away, when I was stopped in my tracks. Not by domestic terrorists … but by a herd of deer.
I jumped out of my car — as silently as one can jump— and took their photograph. I recalled a dream someone had shared with me once, of Deer being buried underground. And I thought to myself, “Ah, the deer have risen!” And, “if only they were in front of the Capitol: what a miracle that would be!”
Then, something stunning happened. One by one, the deer began to cross the street, toward the Capitol. But not without pausing, first, under the street sign that would show I was actually in Carson City— a photojournalist’s dream! They crossed the road, one-by-one, and wandered on to the Capitol lawn. Then, every time I thought, “if only you would move a little over there— that would be an even better shot”… they did!
They were so sweet. So docile. So TRUSTING. So loving. Carson City is still a bit of the Wild West: it is a place of gun lovers and avid hunters. Yet the Deer were tame: they came up to me, and would have eaten out of my hand, had I had some food to offer them.
Their sweet and gentle presence made me weep.
Then, it dawned on me. I remembered my “intention”, and New Year’s Resolution. THESE were the photos I was meant to get and share! Awareness of the rhizome level of reality: where all living beings essentially share the same animal body; where all of us are essentially trees, sharing the same root system deep within the Earth, drinking from the same underground rivers…
This is my gift: going with the flow to manifest this kind of synchronicity, to show the world what the “Shema” really means— in action. My camera, like my fingers on this iPhone, are merely tools in the story-making that underscores this cosmic reality.
Which brings me back again, and finally, to Elie Weisel, in the later part of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:
“Yes, I have faith. Faith in God and even in His creation. Without it no action would be possible. And action is the only remedy to indifference: the most insidious danger of all.”
We can contrast this with President Trump’s speech on June 6th, where he was turning the people against the man who had been most loyal to him: “I just spoke to [Vice President] Mike. I said, “Mike, that doesn’t take courage. What takes courage is to do nothing. That takes courage.”
No, Mr. Trump. No!
As Weisel said, “There is much to be done, there is much that can be done. One person – a Raoul Wallenberg, an Albert Schweitzer, one person of integrity, can make a difference, a difference of life and death.”
Indeed, there is still time to speak out, and to act, in accordance with each of our unique skill-sets, abilities and sensibilities.
Let us let the Deer be our guides!
Amy Katz is a photojournalist and member of CBB. She has been travelling and covering the protests across the country.