Ross: Be careful what you tell an angry crowd of rioters

May 24, 2021, 7:09 AM | Updated: 10:02 am
Crowd of rioters, January, Epik6, Capitol, officers...
Rioters at the U.S. Capitol on January 6. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

About 400 people now face charges for the assault on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, and the Associated Press has been collecting their stories – including the story of Christopher Ray Grider, who said that when he came to Washington that day it was definitely not to join a riot.

Yet when the mob surged past the police and broke the windows, he found himself inside the building with a yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag around his neck as lawmakers ran for cover. And video showed him right up front as a crowd rushed the doors of the House of Representatives.

But he’s not some troublemaker, he claims. He’s a former schoolteacher from Texas who owns a winery. According to his attorney, he was just caught up the hysteria.

Other defendants say the same. The crowd just funneled them into the building; they couldn’t pull back; they were overwhelmed by the moment, to the point they couldn’t help but take selfies.

I think we all know that this can happen.

When I was at the Paul McCartney concert at KeyArena a few years back, I got caught up in the moment and waved my cell phone flashlight back and forth like an idiot.

In fact, I’ll bet some of the people arrested during the riots in and around our own Capitol Hill here in Seattle will also argue they got caught up in the moment, and therefore had no choice but to throw things and smash windows.

Whether it’s true or not, it ought to remind leaders who organize demonstrations that when they create that crowd, they are creating an organism that very often develops a mind of its own. That’s why it’s important to be careful what you tell them.

As for the people who claim they “got caught up in the moment,” I think a good rule of thumb for life in general is that if you find yourself in a crowd full of shouting people and you’re not holding a ticket stub for an organized sports event, get the heck out of there before something gets into you, and you lose your free will.

I hear it can even happen to very fine people.

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Ross: Be careful what you tell an angry crowd of rioters