By Sadie Murphy
Glenville State College President Mark Manchin spoke with The Phoenix in regard to the chaos in Washington DC yesterday:
President Manchin talked about the many times that he has been to the U.S. Capitol in his lifetime. He says, “I have [seen things like this before]. When I was 16 years old, I was in Washington D.C. with my father when Martin Luther King was assassinated and there were riots in Washington that evening and I was very - it was a very tragic time in American history. Yes, I have seen similar. This is not the first time this has happened in the United States Capitol. In 1954, they had, in the House of Representatives, some Puerto Rican nationals who were able to get into the Capitol and actually shoot down at Congress. There have been issues before and shootings and it’s the focal point of the entire country. Unfortunately, these things happen. It’s terrible and certainly we don’t condone it, what is happening.”
Despite what has happened, President Manchin believes, “This is still the greatest country on Earth, and this is a great democracy.”
“Unfortunately,” he adds, “democracy, it doesn’t always end up just as we like it. One of the foundations of democracy is the ability to protest and you’ve seen that all through this summer and over the years.”
President Manchin took a serious tone when discussing the violence.
“I want to make this clear, there is no place for violence that is a part of the democratic process. That is criminal and I think we all agree that we support peaceful protest when you’re not pleased with the way the government is acting - but there is no place for violence. That would be my advice, to recognize that protesting is a First Amendment right, but violence protests are criminal and will not be tolerated. It’s not tolerated in Washington, and it shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else.”
To his students who have likely never seen anything like this before, President Manchin offers, “Believe me, we’re very tolerant. We have always been tolerant of protests. We’ve always had differences. This is not unique. I am 68 years old and over the years there have been riots and certainly this is not so unique. This country was built on our protests; it is the foundation of our democracy, this country that we are. It was the patriots who were opposing the British Empire, in protesting against that.”
Although he would not comment on Senator Manchin's reference to the rioters as thugs reported yesterday, he strongly condemned any use of violence in the name of protest.
He stressed further, “No one should be fearful. This is still a great country. There is still the opportunity to in this country that very few people have - the opportunity to go to college, to get a good job. The economy of the United States is one of the greatest in the world and I’m not fearful at all. This is my 68th year and in my years, I have seen protests and people get upset and at the end of the day, I think we all in American can recognize how important this country is. This is not unique. It seems like it is because we are living in the moment but there’s been protests of the years - in the 60s, there have been racial issues, we have overcome, and we still have a long way to go but we’ve come a long way.”
The Phoenix appreciates that, even after work hours, late in the evening, President Manchin finds time to reach out and offer support to his students.