In Light of Recent Events…

The mob violence on January 6, 2021 that interrupted a Congressional meeting to certify the presidential election was a direct assault on the American democratic system and core national values.   

Under the guise of “protest,” encouraged and abetted by national elected leaders, thousands of rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, using terror tactics to undermine the historic process of certifying the results of the U.S. presidential election.  These rioters attempted to manipulate and suppress the votes of their fellow Americans, which stands in stark contrast with the historic turnout in November, where Americans of all political stripes exercised their fundamental right to use their vote as their voice. 

The National Center for Civil and Human Rights believes in peaceful protest as a fundamental civil right and a way for people to express their political views. In fact, we teach such forms of protest, as embodied by advocates in the U.S. civil rights movement. The storming of the U.S. Capitol was not an act of protestrather, it was criminal behavior with echoes of the terror and harassment we also depict in our Center – that of radicalized mob, encouraged and endorsed by those in power, who believe they are above the laws of the land.  

We devote ourselves to exploring the painful consequences of demagoguery, systemic oppression, and all forms of civil and human rights violations.  We believe that having the courage to look unflinchingly at the past enables us to create a better future. The criminal behavior we witnessed echoed the sorts of terror and attempts at repression that we share with visitors each day.   

As the nation watched events unfold live on television, law enforcement at the U.S. Capitol seemed to offer little resistance to the rioters  again, reminiscent of times past when violent mobs attacked civil rights advocates with impunity while law enforcement stood by.  By contrast, last summer’s peaceful protesters for racial justice – notably from Black Lives Matter — were met with excessive force at that very site.  The disparity in treatment – lenient for violent white rioters and harsh for a diverse group of peaceful protestors — demands investigation and accountability.   

Leaders across the political spectrum have said, “this is not who we are as a country.”  These events force us to recognize, however, that what happened on January 6 is indeed a part of the American story and has been throughout our history.   

We have the power, however, to choose a path forward that reasserts our commitment to civil and human rights and creates a safer, more just society for everyone.  It requires that all those who believe in peace, justice, and the rule of law call out the perpetrators of these acts – the rioters and their sponsors  and work ever more diligently to help America become a more perfect union.