FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thursday, January 7, 2021
Contact: Kelsey Coolidge; email@example.com
War Prevention Initiative Statement on Events at U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021
PORTLAND, OR – The War Prevention Initiative (WPI) strongly condemns the far-right mob threat to democracy that took place at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to overturn the results of a free and fair election. We are disgusted by the violent extremists’ proud display of white supremacist imagery, appalled by the incitement to violence by the sitting President of the United States and the entire apparatus that supports him, and disheartened to see our friends, colleagues, and elected officials under threat.
While what transpired at the Capitol was clearly an unprecedented event, we are not shocked that it happened. In the run up to the presidential elections in November 2020, we identified that the United States exhibits many of the key factors associated with election-related political violence: an electoral process that is perceived as corrupt, compromised, or unfair; an incumbent’s fear of losing power; the use of threats to influence results; the spread of disinformation; forced “protection”; and little or damaged institutional constraints. Our colleagues in the field have echoed these concerns (see for example: Hold the Line network, the TRUST Network, the Alliance for Peacebuilding). Many of our fellow experts in peace and security have warned about the pattern of escalation – including the dehumanization of political rivals and the abject failure to repudiate lies about election fraud. Simply put, our country has reaped what it has sowed.
In reflection, yesterday’s events heighten the urgent need to build peace with justice in the United States, reject white supremacy, and re-evaluate the meaning of security.
Security is determined by power and the powerful. We are haunted by the images from last summer when the National Guard, police, and other state security actors from DHS, ICE, and other federal agents indiscriminately fired upon crowds of Black Lives Matter protesters in Washington D.C. These images are a reminder that the coercive power of the state is readily available on Capitol grounds when the Executive decides the security threat is great enough to warrant the response. The delayed response, the permission to violent white supremacist rioters to casually roam inside the Capitol for hours is a tell-all on who the sitting President sees as a threat and who he sees as an ally.
To say “this is not who we are” is to invalidate the experience of Black Lives Matters, indigenous peoples, undocumented immigrants, and countless other non-dominant individuals and communities who regularly experience direct and indirect violence in the United States. Rather, democratic ideals call on us to listen to the better angels of our nature, to radically envision what our society can be, and work tirelessly to shape our reality to become a more just and peaceful future.
We echo the call from the Alliance for Peacebuilding to:
AfP calls on President Trump to directly address the American people to demand a stop to the violence and illegal actions to inhibit the constitutional process of certifying the results of the Electoral College, and to unequivocally insist on respect for the rule of law. Additionally, we call on leaders from both sides of the aisle and all sectors of society, including business, civil society, and faith groups, to condemn violence and demand the democratic process be preserved.