A year ago today, a few thousand disappointed supporters of President Trump rioted at the U.S. Capitol. Opinions can vary about whether what happened was a riot, an insurrection, or a seditious conspiracy. Federal and Congressional investigations are ongoing, and more on that will be forthcoming. For today, let’s stick to some facts.
More than 700 participants in the riot have been arrested, with 275 of those charged with obstructing the duty of America’s elected members of Congress to count the electoral votes from the States and to certify President Biden’s election by the voters in November 2020. So far, federal judges, including four nominated by President Trump, have sentenced 71 defendants.
The comments and regret of many of the rioters months after the event are striking:
“It started when we were at the speech. You get carried away … It was just a disgusting time. I still feel sick to my stomach about the whole event, I regret that I went.”
“I was wrong for entering the Capitol. I have no excuse. No excuse whatsoever. The behavior is indefensible. I am truly, truly repentant of my actions”
“I’m just so ashamed that I was a part of that … horrified, absolutely devastated”
Another was “humbled,” “humiliated” and “appalled . . . by my fellow Oath Keepers.” She has disbanded her own militant group. “I did it out of love for my country, but it’s time to let all of that go.”
“I now realize I was duped” and am “consumed with guilt.”
“I am deeply disappointed in former President Trump. I have to leave judging him up to other people. What is important is for me to apologize. I am very sorry I entered the Capitol Building. I should not have been there. Period. I am sorry for having aroused fear in the hearts of others. That was wrong. Period.”
In our American life, we experience and debate violent and dangerous events, even as we move forward. A day after the January 6 riot one year ago, American Promise President Jeff Clements shared his view that “democracies that don’t defend themselves die,” observing that the riot reflected “the violent and dangerous outcome of our failure as a nation to correct the toxic, corrupt, money- and disinformation-driven politics that have done so much damage.”
Now, on this anniversary, as we reflect, let’s also celebrate the unity and commitment in hard times that so many of you have shown in our great cause. Last week in The Fulcrum, Jeff described our American Promise strategy and successes in 2021, and his view that, in our country, we have always known what to do in times of chaos, fear, and even violent disruption to defend our democracy: Go big; go the people; go together.
Thank you for doing just that, and all best wishes for 2022.
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