TU College Political Leaders React To Riot At US Capitol

Saturday, January 9th 2021, 10:59 pm

TULSA, Okla. -

Many Oklahomans watched the attacks at the U.S. Capitol with shock and sadness.

Young political leaders in our community said the violence exposed just how fragile democracy is.

"It was devastating,” TU College Republicans chairman Evan Shaw said. “It was utterly horrific in every imaginable way. This can't happen in the United States. We need to be able to push back against that and push for something better.”

"Our enemies are laughing,” TU College Democrats president Roman Shelton said. “They see failure because that's exactly what it was. It was a failure of our system and I just want to say, thank God for the police who were there to protect the Capitol as best as they could." 

Shaw and Shelton, two young activists at the University of Tulsa, stand on different side of most issues, but they both agree that "We the People" are not OK.

Shelton said he watched as tear gas flooded the rotunda and vandals stomped through the halls of America's sacred building on Capitol Hill. 

"There was the idea that the great American experiment might come to an end,” Shelton said. “It was this strange and ungodly mix of emotions, of uncertainty, of anger, of fear. Of wanting to be able to do something but not being able to do anything." 

Shaw said the country he loves is under a domestic attack which is a result of what he sees as a self-inflicted divide. 

"Each side of the divide has become accustomed to seeing the other side as a threat to maybe their freedoms or their ethics, or perhaps even their lives,” Shaw said. “The unity and strength of the American people doesn't start with any political leader or policy. A lot of times we like to fall back on that and try to say, ‘Well, this is going to change things. By electing this person or getting rid of this person, that will make change.’ But I'm afraid that’s really not what does it. It starts small and within our community. It starts with individuals and with communication.” 

Psychiatrists said they've seen an uptick among patients experiencing anxiety regardless of political affiliation. 

“The events of the other day have definitely evoked and stirred up a lot of negative feelings out of a lot of people,” Elocin Psychiatric Services chief medical officer Dr. Nicole Washington said. "If you are feeling uneasy about what you saw and you feel anxious or scared or nervous, there's nothing wrong with you.”

Dr. Washington said fear is a natural response.   

"You see those things as being staunchly protected, almost indestructible and you never thought that you would see something like that and I think it hits you in that spot where you go, ‘Wait a minute, so, if that place that I've always kind of thought to be very safe and protected is not safe and protected, what does that say for me?’” Dr. Washington said. 

Dr. Washington believes everyone could benefit from scaling back on social media by avoiding reading and posting comments as opinions scroll across your feed.

Meanwhile, a new generation of leaders see hope for the country they love. 

"You know, after the Capitol was cleared, the Vice President, the Senate, the House of Representatives, they proved a very important point,” Shelton said. “Because they went back into the Capitol after the mob had been cleared. They went back into the Capitol to show that before we are Republicans, before we are Democrats, that we are Americans and that we will carry out the people's business." 

Shelton said the country needs a sense of national community. He told News On 6 we need to have the tough conversations with people who disagree with us. 

“I think if we want to bring the ‘United’ back into the United States, we have to course correct that area,” Shelton said. “We have to start questioning each other's methods without questioning each other’s motives.”