Yesterday, the world watched in horror as a terrorist insurrection seeking to attack our democracy and silence the votes of millions of Americans unfolded at the U.S. Capitol. A violent mob including white supremacists, encouraged by a sitting U.S. President who refuses to acknowledge the will of the people or concede power, laid siege to one of our nation's most hallowed institutions in an attempted coup on our government. Not since the War of 1812 has such an act of treason and terror taken place on U.S. soil. While many were surprised at the events that unfolded, those of us who have been fighting for justice and freedom were not.
We’ve seen this before. In the face of change and progress, we often encounter rage, violence and obstruction. After the abolition of slavery and the first Reconstruction, lynchings dramatically increased and the Black Codes were enacted. During the 1960s, as the Civil Rights Movement advanced the Second Reconstruction, peaceful protestors were met with state-sponsored violence, states renewed attempts to disenfranchise Black voters, and movement leaders were assassinated. After President Obama’s election in 2008, there was a rise in hate crimes against Black people across the country. The rage, violence and obstruction reached a boiling point when President Trump took office in 2016.
In 2020, Americans across the country stood up and said ‘no more’. We came together to fight racism and hatred and to begin ushering in the Third Reconstruction of America. We took to the streets in protest of police brutality and in defense of Black lives. We overturned racist voter suppression laws, continued the fight against mass incarceration, and elected our first female Vice President. Yesterday, Black voters in Georgia led the way in electing both the state’s first Black Senator and its youngest and first Jewish Senator, flipping control of the House and Senate in the process. On the heels of that victory, as Congress gathered to certify the election results, cement the legitimacy of the election, and work to bring unity and healing to our nation after a divisive election cycle, we were once again forced to pay a heavy price for progress.
Police forces who violently clashed with peaceful protestors for simply asserting that Black Lives Matter, appeared to stand back and stand by as the United States Capitol was breached by armed white supremacists seeking to overthrow our democracy and delegitimize a free and fair election. The President refused to denounce the acts that he incited, instead continuing to spread falsehoods about the election and stoke the flames of bigotry, hate and division and invite violence. Despite these shameful, seditionist attempts to undermine our democracy, congress reconvened and certified the election results, upholding the will of millions of Americans who voted in record numbers amid a global pandemic — affirming that our democracy will not fold, even in the face of an attack from its own citizens and a seated President.
What happened on Capitol Hill yesterday was shameful. Understanding the gravity of this assault on our democracy and our society, there is no room for equivocation. We call for the resignation of any officials who fail to denounce this act of domestic terror; and for this President, unfit to serve, to be immediately removed from office. We have reached a moment of reckoning in America, and we will not allow insurrectionists to push us deeper into division and violence. We must hold tight to our covenant as Americans and people of conscience, to realize a generationally transformative opportunity to move our nation forward, and set the stage for a governing body that will protect our democracy, unite our nation, and advance a Third Reconstruction agenda to finally ensure liberty and justice for all.