RALEIGH (January 8, 2021) – The North Carolina Justice Center stands with people around the nation and world in our horror at the insurrection led by a white supremacist mob at the United States Capitol. We condemn President Donald Trump and his closest allies, who inspired this appalling act of violence, and seek action to prevent future anti-democratic takeover attempts of our country.

Wednesday’s action should be called out for what it was: an attempted coup of the United States government. The roots of the insurrection, planted in our nation’s past, have been spreading even further for four years with the hateful rhetoric, racist language, and intentional spread of conspiracy theories and disinformation by the President and his allies, many of whom knew better. Whether it is by invoking the 25th Amendment, impeachment, or voluntary resignation, the United States is not safe, strong, or secure until  Donald Trump is no longer president.

We appreciate the many Senators and Representatives in Congress who, in bipartisan fashion, did their duty and refused to allow these terrorists to succeed in their attempts to disrupt and prevent the lawful certification of the President and Vice-President-elect. On the other hand, those who objected to the certification of the lawful results of what has been deemed the safest and most secure election in U.S. history – based on nothing more than spurious, baseless, politically deranged allegations of voter fraud, aimed at disenfranchising millions of voters – must be uniformly condemned. These elected officials not only failed to uphold their constitutional duty, but put the nation, our democracy, and their colleagues at serious risk. Their actions – which will be remembered by constituents moving forward – only stoked the fires attempting to burn down our democracy. Just as the first set of Senators and Representatives should be remembered for their courage and urged to continue standing up for democracy, the latter set should be remembered for their cowardice at a time when the nation most needed their leadership.

There are insufficient words to express our frustration and outrage with some law enforcement agencies’ response or lack thereof to the domestic terrorists’ siege of the U.S. Capitol. Throughout history, law enforcement has too often been used as a weapon to silence, harm, and even kill people of color — especially Black and Brown people—when they were assembled for peaceful protest. What occurred Wednesday was not a peaceful protest; it was an insurrection and riot. And, it was dominantly conducted by white nationalists, militia groups, and people committed to the overthrow of our government. These extremists were allowed to terrorize, loot, and damage the Capitol and those trapped inside. The pictures from this week and their juxtaposition to the images of peaceful protestors from the movement for Black lives this past summer are seared into our memories. This must form the basis for a renewed commitment to racial equality and equal justice under the law for everyone in our nation as well as the preservation, improvement, and strengthening of our democracy.

Our democracy is fragile and it remains on the precipice. If we fail to prosecute vigorously and exigently those who, in premeditated fashion, assaulted the most visible symbol of our nation, and terrorized its occupants; if we fail to deter those who are planning, some right out in open cyberspace, to plot future attacks; we will continue to put public officials, indeed the public, at risk. What we do next as a country matters, not only for our democracy but for our reputation across the globe. We must remain vigilant and unwavering in our commitment to the fundamental values of truth, fairness, and equity. The contrast between the violent disruption of  peaceful protests last June and terrorists roaming the halls of the Capitol with impunity tarnishes the very bedrock of justice we all espouse as Americans.

On January 20, 2021, the United States will have a new President and Vice President. But whether we learn our lessons from January 6, 2021, will determine our destiny as a people. We all have much work to do — together.