Hampton teens react to riots in DC


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been more than a week now since a group of rioters, inspired by President Donald Trump, attacked the Capitol in Washington D.C., leaving five people dead and many others injured.

Many of our children were watching, or have seen the videos from the chaos at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Now, some teenagers in Hampton are speaking out about what happened, and what’s next — for them — and for the country.

“We had the ‘high’ of getting a new change in America that’s really positive,” said 17-year-old Hampton High School senior Paul Karnak, referring to the presidential election. “And then we kinda hit a ‘trough’ last Wednesday with the attack on the Capitol.”

Pro-Trump rioters overran Capitol Police and stormed the Capitol building. Five people were killed, including a police officer. Dozens of other police officers were hurt.

Teens in Hampton — and around the country — watched the riot while it happened, while other kids saw video of it later.

The violence left many shaken.

“It was, like, it was horrifying. It was embarrassing,” said 16-year-old Isabel Coravo. She and Karnak, are members of the Hampton Youth Commission. They, and about 25 other teens from schools all over the city, meet three times a month. They discuss issues important to youth, then make recommendations to adult leaders.

So, how do the teens feel about the “history lesson” that played out in real time on Jan. 6?

“It’s disgraceful, plain and simple,” added Karnak.

“The last time Capitol was attacked was Aug. 24, 1814, during the war of 1812,” said Hampton High tenth grader named Kyra. “We went over 200 years without this happening.”

The teens were well aware of the reasons the rioters claimed justified their violence. But none of the nine kids who met with WAVY News agreed with the perpetrators.

“I was just looking at these people storming the Capitol and it just really upset me because we have this president, Mr. Trump, and he has so much influence and he uses that to incite violence. And I was just thinking he could use his influence in [a] much better way,” said Angela Edwards, a 17-year-old junior from Hampton High School.

The teens were also aware of the timing of the attack, and not just the certification of the Electoral College vote. Jan. 15 is the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a man who devoted his life to peace and equal rights for all.

“I know Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day is coming, and I think back on our history,” said Edwards.

Genevieve, a Hampton High School student and future psychiatrist, was frustrated when noting how some officers in Washington D.C. took selfies with rioters in D.C. while police in other communities, like Minneapolis and Seattle, were comparatively much more aggressive with participants in Black Lives Matter demonstrations.

“For the Black Lives movement, it was a protest about what we believed in. We wanted the people to know that Black lives do matter,” said Genevieve.

As members of the Hampton Youth Commission, these teens “represent the voice of youth in the City as they tackle ideas and decisions that affect the lives of young people across the city both today, and, in the future,” according to the HYC website.

So, what consequences do these young people think the adults, including Trump, should face?

Andrew Paxton, a 16-year-old from Phoebus High School, wanted to give it more thought. “I’m not sure what Congress or political figures should do.”

Cori Anderson, a 17-year-old senior at Hampton High, said “I do think that actions should be taken to set the precedent that that is not OK.”

But, when it comes to the president, Genevieve was firm.

“I definitely think he should be impeached. It doesn’t matter how many days he has left.”

“I do feel that we’re moving in the right direction with having a new president,” said Coravo as she looked toward next week’s inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as president and vice president.

“I am very hopeful for what our future holds, as scary as it, as scary as it is.”

There are about 25 teens in the Hampton Youth Commission. They meet at least three weeks a month, in addition to taking on projects to improve the community.

To find out more about the Hampton Youth Commission, click here to visit their Facebook page.

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