Megan Rapinoe is back with the United States women’s national team for the first time since the pandemic hit last March — and for the first time since a violent mob of President Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C. while lawmakers were confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, leaving five people dead.
So it was no wonder that when Rapinoe, an outspoken critic of Trump, was made available to national media on a Zoom call on Tuesday, reporters wanted her take on the riots. Rapinoe obliged.
“As I think it sets in almost a week out from January 6, which will certainly and rightfully so live on in the echoes of American history forever, it’s just striking how horrible it was and how insane it was,” she said in response to the first question she received.
“A white supremacist mob is nothing new to America as people of color, Black and brown, know very well. All the calls for unity moving forward obviously cannot come without justice. If we don’t punish this and investigate this to the fullest extent, it only encourages more of this to happen.”
Rapinoe noted that the deadly rampage could’ve been even worse had the insurrectionists come face to face with elected officials who were forced to shelter in offices. On videos of the incident, rioters were heard calling out for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Mike Pence by name.
“We should not underestimate what could have happened. I think that we are very lucky that that officer led them away from the Senate hall,” Rapinoe said, referring to the actions of Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman, who has been credited for saving lives. “I mean we saw people with weapons, and people with zip ties. They put up a gallows outside where they were chanting to hang the vice president of the United States.
“We should make no mistake about what the intent was behind it,” she added. “And it was a murderous moment. I mean, five people are dead and we can’t bring them back. So this week certainly will be hugely consequential in the history of our country. Just from a personal standpoint, it’s very unsettling and scary.”
Rapinoe then called out the Republican lawmakers who, despite the fear that they and their Democratic colleagues had been subjected to just hours earlier, still objected to Biden’s win, which Trump baselessly dismissed as fraudulent even though his own Justice Department and Republican election officials around the country have called it the most secure and scrutinized election in U.S. history.
“The utter bottomlessness for some of these lawmakers to continue incite violence, and still call for overturning the election when the mandates have been given by the United States and by the people of the United States, is just absolutely insane and they should be held accountable,” she said.
“Hopefully this is the last layer that we needed to rip off, although it’s been abundantly clear for a number of hundred years what the real issue is. This was about white supremacy, and holding up white supremacy, and I hope that we can see this and move forward with justice. I think that’s the only way that we can actually move forward. I think it’s all out in the open, it’s all stripped bare, and so hopefully the lawmakers will have the courage to do what needs to be done and every day citizens as well.”
Before her virtual media availability ended, Rapinoe also answered a question about the Trump supporter returning from Washington wearing a USWNT sweatshirt, whose photo was shared widely on social media by women’s soccer fans.
“I feel like I can probably speak on behalf of a lot of my teammates,” Rapinoe said. “That is not the kind of fan that we will welcome. The U.S. crest is not to be confused with anything that has to do with white supremacy, anything that has to do with the Trump administration, anything that has to do with that divisive culture that we saw on the Capitol.
“I saw the picture,” she added. “We want to create, and continue to create, a place that is inclusive and safe and diverse for our fans and for our players to play in front of and for people to watch on TV and for the media to cover.
“So don’t bring that bulls*** here.”
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