Clean-Up After the Chaos

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AAPI Leaders’ Statements on Assault on Capitol

Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) cleans up debris strewn across the floor in the early morning hours Thursday after rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. “When you see something that’s broken, you want to fix it,” said Kim, 38, who has just been re-elected to a second term. “I love the Capitol. I’m honored to be there.” (Photo by Andrew Harnik/Associated Press)

WASHINGTON — Statements from Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders in Washington, D.C. regarding the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol include the following:

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus: “Early this morning, the House and Senate fulfilled our constitutional responsibility and certified the election results from this November’s presidential election, officially confirming that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the presidential election. This vote should have been historic as the confirmation of our first female, Asian American, and Black vice president. Instead, it was historic for occurring despite a domestic terror attack on the Capitol by violent supporters of the outgoing president, encouraged and egged on by Trump and his supporters in Congress.

“I want to thank the law enforcement officers who finally were able to regain control of the Capitol to allow us to resume our work. And I want to praise my colleagues who remained steadfast and determined to do our constitutional duties in the face of this violence, which was intended to intimidate and deter us.

“The assault of the Capitol was the direct result of a Republican Party that has been willing to indulge white supremacy and conspiracy theories throughout the Trump presidency. The repeated attempts to undermine confidence in our elections – even after yesterday’s siege ended – are irresponsible and reprehensible.

“It is beyond tragic that a life was lost yesterday, ending America’s proud history of bloodless transfers of power. This should have been avoided. Yet over half the House Republicans voted to reverse the outcome of this election and some are spreading lies about who was responsible.

“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have promised to unite us. And I am confident in their leadership. But unless the Republican Party is willing to accept responsibility, hold those responsible accountable, and end their incitement and lies, our country remains under threat.”

Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “The insurrection that occurred at the U.S. Capitol today as Congress was carrying out its constitutional duty was enabled and provoked by President Trump. The president incited an attack on our democracy and our democratic process, and for that, he must be impeached immediately and be barred from holding federal elected office ever again.

“Watching the coverage of insurgents in Trump campaign memorabilia and waving Confederate flags storming the Capitol building was chilling. These individuals must be arrested and held accountable for engaging in violence, breaking into the Capitol, and disrupting a fundamental aspect of our peaceful transfer of power, the certification of the Electoral College votes.

“Today should serve as a reminder that our democracy does not run on auto-pilot, we must fight to uphold it, and the words and actions of elected officials matter. I urge my Republican colleagues who are supporting Trump’s anti-democratic charade, peddling conspiracies, and opposing the certification of certain Electoral College votes to cease their efforts to undermine our democracy and our democratic process. History, America, and the rest of the world have their eyes on you.

“While the violent events that unfolded at the Capitol today delayed the certification of the Electoral College votes, Congress will not be deterred – we will carry out our constitutional duty and certify that Joe Biden will be the 46th president of the United States.

“Tonight, we will count the ballots and certify the results. Our democracy will prevail.”

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “Today’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was a coordinated attempt to overthrow our democratic process with violence. Make no mistake, these rioters viewed the president’s repeated claims of fraud as a mandate to act. Lies, misinformation, and demagoguery have consequences.

“That is why I called on the vice president to invoke the 25th Amendment and convene the Cabinet to remove the president from office. President Trump continues to put himself above the American people, and his reckless actions to undermine our democracy must be met with equal consequence.

“Despite this failed attempt to prevent the transfer of executive power, President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris won the 2020 election decisively, with a historic margin of victory. The American people cast more than 81 million votes for the Biden-Harris ticket – the most ever cast for a candidate for public office in our nation’s history, and well over a majority of all votes cast.

“Our job in Congress is to affirm our commitment to America’s shared democratic tradition. That is why we moved forward tonight to certify the Electoral College results despite the best efforts of the rioters. The American people spoke with their ballots and selected the leader they want in this time of crisis. That choice must be respected.

“I will continue to do my duty and work to rebuild faith in our democracy.”

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): “I voted to convict and remove Trump from office because I believed any commander-in-chief willing to abuse his power posed an unacceptable threat to our republic.

“Unfortunately, those fears were validated yesterday as Trump incited a violent mob that sought to block the American people’s elected representatives from fulfilling a critical constitutional responsibility.

“It’s clear Donald Trump is a threat to our nation and he should be removed from office as soon as possible. The Cabinet should immediately invoke the 25th Amendment, but if they fail to do so then Congress must immediately begin impeachment proceedings to safeguard our republic.”

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.): “Jan. 6, 2021 is a date which will forever live in infamy. This was the most violent, deadly, and destructive assault on the U.S. Capitol since the War of 1812. The insurrectionists were domestic terrorists, many armed and many associated with white nationalist groups. This was a planned and coordinated attack with an intent to overthrow a free and fair election, and included live bombs both on the Capitol grounds and outside the Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee headquarters.

“These insurrectionists were called to action, incited, fueled, and assisted in their attack on our democracy and our Capitol by Donald J. Trump, the sitting president of the United States, who has used every opportunity to build his own following at the expense of our country and our Constitution and with the express intent to fuel and promote hate and violence as a political tool.

“I was one of a dozen representatives trapped in the gallery above the House floor as this occurred. We pulled out gas masks from under the seats because tear gas was being used and we had to get down on the ground for cover. Capitol Police barricaded the doors with furniture and had their guns drawn. We were eventually told that we had to quickly exit and took flights of stairs down to a safer location. As we did, we passed insurrectionists who had been trying to break into the very gallery that we had been trapped in. They were being held — spread-eagled on the floor and at gunpoint —  by Capitol Police.

“We knew that the first thing we had to do was to finish the work of certifying the election, to make it crystal clear to these insurrectionists — led by Trump and his enablers — that we would do our constitutional duty and listen to the will of the people who voted and made their voices clear in delivering both a popular vote and Electoral College vote victory to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris.

“In the wake of the violence wrought on the Capitol, it was even more disgusting that some Republican colleagues continued their baseless objections to the Electoral College certification, even spinning more lies and conspiracy theories on the House floor and shockingly defending the insurrectionists. Nevertheless, at 3:45 a.m. on Jan. 7, 2021, we completed the process and certified the election in both the House and the Senate. There is absolutely no question that on Jan. 20, Joe Biden will be our new president.

“However, our work is far from done. Congress must reconvene right now so we can have immediate accountability in three specific ways.

“First, we must immediately remove the president from office. I have called on Vice President Pence and the Cabinet to put this country first and uphold their constitutional duty to invoke the 25th Amendment. I have also signed on to once again impeach Donald Trump. He is a direct threat to our democracy, with complete control over the military, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies. It cannot be an accident that the federal government was not properly prepared for the threats associated with Wednesday’s assault, which were being publicly broadcast over social media.

“Additionally, Donald Trump did not authorize the full securing of the US Capitol. In fact, French Intelligence experts have stated that they believe the president may have been involved in a coup attempt — explicitly or implicitly with his actions. It is inconceivable that Congress would allow him to remain in office in these final critical days leading to President-elect Biden’s inauguration, or that we would not clearly send a message to our country and the world that insurrection and sedition will not be tolerated.

“In addition, the Department of Justice must ruthlessly investigate Trump and hold him fully accountable for his dangerous crimes and corruption against the American people with every tool in the toolbox. To those who say we should simply move on, I remind you that his crimes without consequences would only enable him and any others who follow in his dangerous mold to do the same.

“I also remind everyone that for Black, Brown and Indigenous people across our country who have been met with violence while peacefully protesting, this rapid march towards a rising of the Confederacy — with a noose on Capitol grounds and a Confederate flag planted at the Capitol as others were waved inside — without any consequences is a re-traumatization and an unacceptable outcome in any march towards justice. It simply cannot be.

“Second, we must immediately, quickly, and thoroughly investigate what happened that allowed insurrectionists to overtake the Capitol on Wednesday. The United States has the most powerful law enforcement, intelligence, and military agencies in the world. To my chagrin, we spend $750 billion on defense, and yet we were unable to protect our own Capitol and democracy. We need to know what happened and what did not happen, and there must be accountability for that.

“We also need to know that our Capitol is safe now, that the inauguration will be safe, and that our law enforcement agencies are working for our democracy and not for insurrectionists. Those who were part and parcel of any breaches of Capitol security, or any delays that prevented the Capitol from being fully secured as we took on the constitutional responsibility of certifying the Electoral College must be held accountable.

“Finally, we absolutely must reckon with the racism and white supremacy that was so clearly and painfully on display with the storming of the Capitol. Over one year ago, during my opening remarks for the Judiciary Committee’s impeachment hearings, I said this: ‘Donald Trump is the smoking gun. It is reloaded and whether or not it goes off again is up to us.’ Then last summer, I grilled Attorney General Bill Barr on the Department of Justice’s disparate treatment of white, armed militia who stormed the Michigan State Capitol with absolutely no accountability and the unforgivable, violent treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors who were protesting the systematic and regular murder of Black people throughout our history, brought fully to the forefront by the murder of George Floyd.

“We know that peaceful Black and Brown protestors would never have been allowed even remotely close to the Capitol. And yet, there were no barricades and no law enforcement to stop the insurrectionists who overtook our Capitol — and even videos and pictures of those people being allowed in, barriers being opened up, and the insurrectionists posing for selfies with law enforcement inside the Capitol. This is the deep injustice and violence of our law enforcement agencies over the course of our history that have led to the powerful calls for justice in policing. No progress in America is possible unless we address the racism, white supremacy, and anti-blackness that has plagued our country for far too long.

“I want to close by extending my gratitude to everyone for your thoughts for our safety and for America during this dark moment. Our country and our democracy will have to recover from these deep wounds — and it will not be easy. It will take time and it will take work. But we will get through this because we are strong and resilient. We will do the people’s work to ensure that justice and peace prevail. And we will preserve and protect our democracy today and always. I promise you that.”

JACL Executive Director David Inoue and Vice President of Public Affairs Sarah Baker: “Today we have seen the culmination of months of seditious rhetoric from the president and his supporters. For too long white supremacy and hate have gone unchecked in our nation; there can be no other word for what has happened today with the storming of the Capitol than treason. These heinous acts, encouraged and supported by our president, should not go unpunished — Congress must immediately begin the process of impeachment and removal of the president of the United States for acts of sedition.

“On this day, Congress was supposed to certify the Electoral College votes, confirming President-Elect Biden as the next president of the United States. Instead, right-wing terrorists desecrated the Capitol with violence and menacing intent. Law enforcement was not prepared for this situation and their restraint today is in stark contrast to the abhorrent treatment of Black Lives Matter protestors during the summer.

“What we have seen today at our nation’s Capitol is not only an affront to our democracy, but it sends a clear message to our fellow Americans and the rest of the world that the United States truly does not value Black lives. This is the epitome of white privilege.

“JACL emphasizes the importance and the power of words and calls upon the media to report on the situation accurately. These are not protestors; these are violent white supremacist terrorists. To refer to them as protestors denigrates those who engage in legitimate peaceful protest. Social media networks must also crack down on hate groups that have been using these outlets to openly plan the violent acts that have unfolded today.”

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