US Human Rights Network Blog

US Human Rights Network Blog



Statement Regarding the Insurrection at the United States Capitol

Jan 7, 2021




On January 6, 2021, we watched, alongside the rest of the world, as hundreds of white nationalist insurrectionists -- responding to President Trump’s blatantly false allegations of a fraudulent election -- violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on his order in an attempt to obstruct the certification of the 2020 U.S. General Election results. During the siege, five people died.

USHRN vehemently condemns the actions that took place yesterday. We must be clear:  this was an assault on democracy. This was white nationalist terrorism.

“What really struck me were the images that were beamed, not just across the country, but around the world, of insurrectionists storming the Capitol with confederate flags, breaking windows, posing in congressional offices, hanging from the balcony of the Senate chamber, as Congress members were ushered to safety and rioters outside of the Capitol indulged gleefully, high-fiving each other and eventually, gently dispersing at their leisure.

The world has already seen the images in the United States of the treatment of Muslims (and those appearing to be Muslim) as terrorists, the violent reaction to Black Lives Matter protests, the siege against Indigenous Peoples at Standing Rock, and the violent assaults on immigrants at the border. What this moment makes clear is that who the State decides to coddle and who they demonize is almost entirely based on race and ethnicity. This coddling of white supremacists has emboldened them to act without fear of the same kinds of consequences that marginalized groups continue to endure.” -Salimah K. Hankins, Esq., Interim Executive Director

What occurred yesterday was an attempted electoral coup d'etat instigated by President Trump’s followers, encouraged by Republican members of Congress and emanating from the President himself, who just hours earlier, addressed his angry followers at the Washington Monument saying, “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue … and we’re going to the Capitol … we’re going to try and give our Republicans … the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.” 

The double-standard has been laid bare for the world to witness: just a few months ago, we went to the United Nations after the killing of George Floyd, demanding justice for peaceful BLM protestors and activists that were met with race-based brutality at the hands of paramilitary police. By June 22, 2020, there were an estimated 14,000 arrests across 49 cities. On January 6, 2021, there were 52 arrests, underscoring the impunity granted to these white supremacist insurrectionists.

While this white supremacist coup attempt is a bold, audacious, and visible attack on the very seat of government, it is also an attack on marginalized groups' human right to vote. USHRN denounces the attempt by Republican lawmakers, including 8 Senators and 139 Representatives, to disenfranchise millions of voters and undermine the political power of typically marginalized voters by embracing and defending the President’s false allegations of voter fraud, claims which are historically linked to racist tropes.  These actions seek to undermine the human right to vote which is enshrined in international law, including Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), and Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) called on President Trump to disavow “false and dangerous narratives,” stating: “Wednesday’s attack on the US Capitol demonstrated clearly the destructive impact of sustained, deliberate distortion of facts, and incitement to violence and hatred by political leaders. Allegations of electoral fraud have been invoked to try to undermine the right to political participation.”

As we move toward the Biden-Harris inauguration on January 20, we remain adamant that a peaceful transition of power is necessary for our continued fight to dismantle white supremacy. We support the removal of Donald Trump immediately from office whether through the 25th Amendment (which Mike Pence could exercise) or by impeachment using the Articles of Impeachment drafted by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN).

Finally, the US Human Rights Network, which is headquartered in Atlanta, GA, would like to recognize and thank the voting rights defenders, including our members Black Voters Matter led by LaTosha Brown, New Georgia Project led by Nse Ufot, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Voting Rights Project co-led by Marcia Johnson-Blanco, and organizers across the state of Georgia for their hard work in ensuring record turnout for the January 5, 2021 special run-off election and making sure that marginalized voices are heard at the polls.