WASHINGTON—Today, lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives joined a coalition of advocates representing tens of millions of Americans at a press conference in front of the U.S. Capitol to mark three years since Donald Trump and his allies in Congress instigated a violent insurrection that left five people dead, over one hundred officers injured, and our country divided.
Since the 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, right-wing politicians have continued their assault on our democracy by introducing voter suppression bills in Congress and state legislatures across the country, spreading false election conspiracy theories, harassing and threatening election workers, and attempting to overturn election results they disagree with.
Today’s speakers called for accountability, defending the rule of law, and the urgent need for federal democracy reform to protect Americans’ freedom to vote. Here’s what they had to say ahead of the third anniversary of the failed coup:
“The vast majority of the American people believe in democratic institutions and believe in free and fair elections. It is only authoritarian parties which take the position that they can’t lose an election,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). “The struggle that began on January 6 in this building continues to this day.”
“January 6 was a wake up call—we’ve got to get back on track with respect to making sure that the big lie that’s been told over and over again by Donald Trump and many of his members of the Republican Party—the public needs to hear the truth about that,” said Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD). “The people who broke into [the U.S. Capitol ]that day and caused damage, disrupted the democratic process and tried to actually overthrow the democracy that day—they all have to be held accountable.”
“On January 6, three years ago tomorrow, the U.S. Capitol was attacked by individuals seeking to overturn democratic form of government while President Trump refused to send in the DC National Guard to the Capitol. The Metropolitan Police Department voluntarily responded protecting the Capitol, Congress, and democracy itself,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).
“We’re here to commemorate something that was not okay… something that went beyond disruptive, something that was lethally dangerous not just to the brave officers who fought to protect the heart of our Capitol—but to every American who’s striving to build a life of purpose and satisfaction,” said Svante Myrick, President, People For the American Way. “If we fight through this year, in 2024, we can keep safe everything we hold dear—because our democracy is not an abstract fact—our democracy is the key to keeping us all safe.”
“The [January 6] insurrection disrupted the peaceful transition of presidential power for the first time in our nation’s history. The gravity of this situation cannot be overstated,” said Donald Sherman, Executive Vice President & Chief Counsel, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “We hope that our leaders across the street and across the nation are listening and will vindicate the Constitution and reaffirm that no one is above the law.”
“We need to continue to hold accountable the perpetrators of the Big Lie and, of course, we must eventually pass legislation in the form of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act,” said Lisa Gilbert, Executive Vice President at Public Citizen. “Together, we can all make sure that we don’t repeat these mistakes, that we have a robust democracy that is backed up by the confidence of the American people that can hold criminal actors accountable, and one where our elections are safe.”
“The Big Lie continues to this day. It’s resulted in voter suppression laws across the country. It resulted in decreased resources for Boards of Elections to do their job,” said Dustin Czarny, Elections Commissioner of the Onondaga County Board of Elections and Democratic Caucus Chair of the New York State Elections Commissioner Association. “I’m hopeful that we could see legislation in this next year in the States and in the federal government and resources directed, so that those boards of elections can do their job in a safe and accurate manner and deliver the voice of the American people to the ballot box and give them their choice in this election.”
“On January 6 2021, insurrectionists were incited by MAGA extremism to attack the U.S. Capitol—the standing symbol for democracy in this country—and the events on that day were horrific, a traumatic event for all of us,” said José Morales Jr., a spokesperson for Courage for America. “We cannot allow false narratives, misinformation, and extremism win. We have to tell the truth.”
“[January 6] wasn’t just an attack on a building—it was an attack on every vote cast, every voice, every principle that America was built upon,” said Naveed Shah, a veteran and Political Director of Common Defense. “Those who incited, aided, and abetted the insurrection must face the full consequences of their actions.”
“January 6 was not a protest. January 6 was an insurrection. It was a violent attack on our democracy that silenced the will of the voters and the American people. We can’t let January 6 happen again. Our democracy can’t stand it, and our environment can’t afford it,” said Justin Kwasa, Democracy Program Director for the League of Conservation Voters. “We’re asking Congress, we’re asking the courts, [and] we’re asking the administration to do everything in their power in order to ensure that the horrors of 2021 aren’t repeated again.”
“Tomorrow marks three years since the attack on the very Capitol building that stands behind us. Not only was it an attack on the building, but in a larger sense, it was also an attack on our democracy. It was an attack on the very concept that free people can elect their own leaders in pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness and know that the peaceful transfer of power will occur when the time comes,” said Tishan Weerasooriya, Senior Associate, Policy & Political Affairs, Stand Up America.
“Tomorrow is going to be a solemn day, not only for myself, but for many of my colleagues who almost three years ago defended the Capitol against the mob. I did what I did, and my colleagues did what they did—not because we were seeking accolades, awards, or a medal, but because it was our duty and our job to defend this country,” said Aquilino Gonell, former U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant.
The Not Above the Law coalition is made up of more than 150 organizations—ranging from legal, national security, netroots, and more—committed to protecting our democracy and fighting for the rule of law.
The Declaration for American Democracy is a coalition of over 250+ organizations from the labor, racial justice, voting rights, faith, environmental, women’s rights, good government, and many other important communities, representing tens of millions of Americans.