Illinois political leaders are among the many officials nationwide speaking out about the importance of today’s one-year anniversary of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021.
Gov. JB Pritzker released the following statement.
“One year ago, a vicious attack on American democracy left five police officers dead and scores of others severely injured. A violent mob of Trump supporters, fueled by the Big Lie and Trump’s allies, stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to sabotage the transition of power––a transition that for centuries had been peaceful. Even after these insurrectionists were removed, most Republican lawmakers voted to thwart the will of the majority of voters.
“As Americans, we have a sacred responsibility to stand up for democracy and hold accountable those who incited and carried out this attempted coup,” Pritzker said. “We must not allow the Republican Party to rewrite history and sweep the events of January 6 under the rug. The preservation of democracy is not a guarantee, and our 245-year-old experiment in self-governance depends upon our ability to restore respect for our institutions and protect the will of the people as expressed by their votes.
“Anyone seeking public office today should be able to forcefully denounce the actions of those who attacked the Capitol and, in no uncertain terms, proclaim that Joe Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 Presidential election, and that they will accept as legitimate the results of the 2022 midterm elections when all the votes are counted,” he said. “Responding affirmatively to these questions must be a prerequisite for holding public office. Failing to do so puts the future of our great nation in grave jeopardy.”
“MK and I send our deepest condolences to the families of the Capitol Police Officers who lost their lives while defending our democracy on January 6.” Pritzker, a Democrat, said. ” I promise to do everything in my power to ensure their sacrifices were not in vain.”
During the attack on the Capitol last year, four people in the crowd died.
- Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, was fatally shot by a Capitol Police officer as rioters tried to breach the House chamber.
- Kevin D. Greeson died of a heart attack, collapsing on the sidewalk west of the Capitol on Jan. 6.
- Rosanne Boyland appeared to have been crushed in a stampede of fellow rioters as they surged against the police.
- Benjamin Philips, the founder of a pro-Trump website called Trumparoo, died of a stroke.
Greeson and Philips died of natural causes, the Washington medical examiner said in April. He added that Boyland’s death was caused by an accidental overdose, according to a New York Times report.
In the days and weeks after the riot, five police officers who had served at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died.
- Officer Brian D. Sicknick of the Capitol Police, who was attacked by the mob, died on Jan. 7.
- Officer Jeffrey Smith of the Metropolitan Police Department killed himself after the attack.
- Officer Howard S. Liebengood of the Capitol Police also died by suicide four days afterward.
The Capitol Police had previously said that Officer Sicknick died from injuries sustained “while physically engaging with protesters,” the Times reported. The Washington medical examiner later ruled that he had died of natural causes: multiple strokes that occurred hours after Officer Sicknick’s confrontation with the mob. The medical examiner added that “all that transpired played a role in his condition.”
A bipartisan Senate report, released in June, found that the seven deaths were connected to the Capitol attack. But the report was issued a month before two Metropolitan Police officers — Gunther Hashida and Kyle DeFreytag — died by suicide in July.
Davis demands information
House Administration Committee ranking member Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL), penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, demanding House offices under her control stop obstructing a GOP investigation into the Capitol building’s security vulnerabilities.
“The events of January 6, 2021 exposed serious security vulnerabilities at the Capitol Complex,” Davis said in the letter Monday, Jan. 3. “Unfortunately, over the past twelve months, House Democrats have been more interested in exploiting the events of January 6th for political purposes than in conducting basic oversight of the security vulnerabilities exposed that day.”
Davis said GOP lawmakers began investigating the security vulnerabilities of the Capitol immediately after last year’s riot, requesting records from the acting chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, the House sergeant-at-arms and the House chief administrative officer.
GOP lawmakers are most interested in the communications the House sergeant-at-arms and the House chief administrative officer had with Pelosi in the days leading up to and during the riot, hoping those emails, phone calls and text messages could shed light on the directions Pelosi gave that could have impacted security at the Capitol, according to a Yahoo News report.
But Davis said only the USCP has so far cooperated with the request, pointing out that the House sergeant-at-arms and House chief administrative officer are “the two House officers who report directly” to Pelosi and have yet to produce records related to the Jan. 6 riot.
Congressmen Kinzinger and Schiff speak out
U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) issued a statement calling Jan. 6, 2021 one of the worst days in American history — “a day that ended in despair, death, and a deeply threatened democracy. And yet, some will say it’s time to move on from January 6th.
“But we cannot move on without addressing what happened nor by pretending it never happened,” Kinzinger said. “We cannot move on without taking action to make sure it never happens again. It starts by admitting the facts. The 2020 election was not stolen. Joe Biden won and Donald Trump lost. We have to admit it. But the leadership of the Republican Party won’t.
“They lied to the American people and continue to push the Big Lie and echo the conspiracy theories that line their pockets, keeping them in power,” he said. “I said last year that the Republican Party has lost its way and that’s clearly still the case. Our leaders prey on tribalism and extremism by stoking it.
“They profit by making our problems worse. Too many politicians and pundits will not do what needs to be done. So, now, we the people must rise to the occasion, and do it ourselves,” Kinzinger — who is not running for re-election this year — said. “And that means choosing truth over lies, hope over fear, and progress over anger. It means stepping up to vote for principled leaders – especially in the primaries.”
“On this anniversary of January 6th, let’s confront the anger, fear, and hopelessness that brought that dark day about. Let’s defeat the despair that grips our nation and do our part to put country first,” he added.
U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent an e-mail recalling that day like it was yesterday.
“Please grab a mask!” a Capitol Police officer shouted, referring to the gas masks under each chair in the House chamber. “Be prepared to don your mask in the event the room is breached… Just be prepared. Stay calm.”
“There is nothing like being told to stay calm to get one’s heart beating faster,” Schiff recalled. “Verbal shouting matches broke out on the House Floor and Gallery. One of my Democratic colleagues yelled at Republicans, ‘This is because of you!’ The reply from a Republican was a defensive and succinct, ‘shut up!’ Recriminations spread as we waited for police to secure an escape route.”
” ‘You can’t let them see you,’ one of the Republican members told me,” Schiff wrote. “He said that he knew these people, that he could talk to them, but that I was in a whole different category. He was right. If the insurrectionists broke through the doors, I would likely be one of the first they would come after.
“I was touched by the evident concern of these GOP members. But that emotion rapidly gave way to another,” he said. “If they hadn’t been pushing the Big Lie about our elections, I wouldn’t need to worry over my safety. None of us would.
“They were insurrectionists, too, these members in suits and ties, sworn to uphold the constitution but unwilling to honor their oaths,” Schiff said. “After brave police officers finally cleared the building and it was safe for us to return to complete the joint session, a majority of Republican members STILL voted to overturn the election.”
“It is all too tragically the case, that our democracy is at greater risk today, than it was one year ago,” he added. “Our Capitol building may be better protected, but the democracy it stands for is not. We must awaken to the threat.
“I hope the anniversary of January 6th will inspire a renewed commitment to the cherished ideals of our founders, that we will rededicate ourselves to the great experiment in self-governance that they conceived, and strengthen its protections,” Schiff said.
“We will get through this difficult time in our history. America is a deeply resilient country filled with patriotic citizens who love our democracy, and those who do, vastly outnumber those trying to tear it down.”