Like so many other days, January 6th has always been just another day of no particular note. But in 2021 that day was transformed into one of our country’s least proud moments as insurrectionists stormed the Capitol at Trump’s beckoning to overthrow the government because of his unwillingness to accept that he had lost the 2020 election.
That day is now transfixed in people’s minds while it’s legacy and growing threat to our democracy and freedoms continue to linger even as the prosecution of 950 insurrectionists to date has done little to dispel those still bent on overthrowing our government. Across the nation in over 100 cities and towns activists today demonstrated in support of standing up for democracy and against the continued threats it faces. Activists in the nation’s Capital held a “ Jan 6th Justice, Our Freedoms Our Vote” demonstration at the Capitol in support of those ideals while issuing a call for action to stand firm in maintaining those rights and freedoms.
The group called for an end to complacency along with an end to violent attacks and noted that newly elected “MAGA Republicans are already looking to 2024 for ways to overturn the will of voters. They are working to sabotage future elections by changing state laws, threatening state officials and packing election administration offices so that they can have the final say over election results – even when they lose.”
Several speakers addressed the threat all of whom warned of the continued danger posed by Trump and his allies who press on with “…spreading false claims about the 2020 election, trying to pass state laws to limit voting and preparing to launch a sham investigation into the January 6th Committee!”
Rep. John Sarbanes(D-MD) apologized for his having to leave the rally early by saying, “I need to get over to that building (pointing to the Capitol) to say the name, Hakim Jefferies. I said it twelve times in the last three days and I’ll keep saying it for as long as it takes.” He called those holding up the election of a new Speaker of the House extreme lawmakers holding legislators hostage in acting on legislation for the American people. “Many of the people holding things up in there are extremists also and are apologists for the insurrectionists, so our democracy is still under assault.”
In referring to today specifically he noted “This is a sober day as we look back on what happened two years ago, the violation of this citadel of democracy, the US Capitol, with this insurrection and rioters.” He then acknowledged and gave thanks to the five officers for their personal sacrifices who lost their lives during and after the insurrection attempt.
Referring to the legacy of that day he went on calling for accountability in prosecuting those responsible for the chaos and called for of those involved as central in the efforts to bring them to justice.
In closing, he quoted William Cullen Bryant who Dr. King often quoted by repeating Bryant’s adage that “Truth crushed to the Earth will rise again.”
Both Martin Luther King III and his wife Andrea Waters King also spoke. Mrs. King noted as both an activist and a mother at a time when civics and history have been taken out of our classrooms, we have witnessed the progressive loss of rights that both Dr. King and his wife had dedicated their lives to. “What we saw here two years ago was a physical attack on our democracy. But what we have seen since then is even more insidious. We’ve seen the structural attack on our democracy. We are seeing laws that should lift us all up being used to limit and roll back hard-won rights. We are seeing Martin Luther King’s granddaughter now with less voting rights than the day she was born. Since she was born voting rights have been stripped and diminished.”
She expressed how, living in the state of Georgia where recently passed draconian voting rights legislation was passed, her daughter now has less rights both as a voter and as a female than she had a year ago. “That is not the dream of Martin Luther King Jr or Coretta Scott King.” Especially so, as she noted that this August is the 60th anniversary of the March on Washington when Dr. King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Martin Luther King III, eldest son of Dr. King, admitted he was saddened to be present and to be speaking in the aftermath of the day “American citizens came to the Capitol with the intent of destroying our government.” He characterized that day as “tragic history.” He reflected on his father’s legacy in which the elder King called for “being able to disagree without being disagreeable.”
“We should always engage in building and expanding democracy. But it takes us the people to do that.” He reflected on the inability of Congress to elect a speaker and noted that “when we are engaged, change occurs. But when we sit by idly, nothing can happen. It only takes a few good men and women to bring about change. We can be a great nation, but we are not there yet. Don’t give in. Don’t give up. Don’t give out. We are gonna make America truly the great nation that it outta be for all Americans.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) while unable to attend the demonstration issued a statement in lieu of his presence. He recalled how January 6th was the first time in American history that coup plotters almost overthrew a constitutional election. He further blamed Trump for directing the crowd to storm the Capitol encouraging them to overthrow the vote to keep his grip on power.
He closed by acknowledging the heroes of that day who “…insisted upon respecting the will of the people as expressed through our constitutional system.”
Report and photos by Phil Pasquini
(This article has previously appeared in Nuzeink.)
Phil Pasquini is a freelance journalist and photographer. His reports and photographs appear in the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Pakistan Link and Nuze.ink. He is the author of Domes, Arches and Minarets: A History of Islamic-Inspired Buildings in America.