January 6th Was An Attack On American Democracy Itself

One year ago, on January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol Police officers faced a violent mob intent on interrupting the peaceful transfer

Photos: Lawyer’s Committee\Wikimedia Commons

(Washington, D.C.) — One year ago, on January 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol Police officers faced a violent mob intent on interrupting the peaceful transfer of presidential power. They were driven by white supremacist rhetoric and intentional misinformation aimed at overturning the legitimate results of an election.

In 2021, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed suit on behalf of eight U.S. Capitol Police officers who defended the ballot certification process at the U.S. Capitol on that fateful day. The lawsuit names as defendants former President Donald J. Trump, Stop the Steal, the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers, and other organizations and individual members of far-right extremist groups and political organizations responsible for the insurrection.

The lawsuit is currently pending in a federal court in Washington, DC as the fight for accountability continues.

The following is a statement from Damon Hewitt, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law marking the anniversary of the attack:

“The violent insurrection on January 6th was an attack on democracy itself—an effort to silence the voices of millions of voters, including record numbers of Black and Brown voters who cast decisive ballots in the 2020 election.

“Our lawsuit is one of the first to represent the Capitol Police officers who risked their lives to defend those voices and votes. The suit seeks to hold accountable those responsible for turning what should have been a peaceful transfer of power into madness. That day officers stood up for the people. Through this lawsuit, we are standing with them against the white supremacist and antidemocratic forces still at play.

“Trump and his allies continue to repeat the Big Lie that fueled the attacks, which has sadly already cost lives and if not addressed will cost us more. These bad actors irresponsibly and intentionally distort reality and truth for their own gain. With each passing week, more revelations continue to demonstrate their cowardice, as well as the depths of their conspiracy and complicity.

“Yet, a number of elected officials refuse to support steps toward accountability. Even worse, aligned efforts to suppress the vote have continued unabated, with a number of states adopting restrictive ballot measures designed to make it more difficult for people to vote and easier for partisan hacks to overturn legitimate election results.

“The sorry legacy of the January 6th attack on the Capitol lives on with every bill that seeks to limit the right to vote, with every election official forced to resign when threatened with violence, and with every passing day that Congress fails to pass critical voting rights legislation like the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. While not employing violence as a tactic, these efforts are cut from the same cloth and share the same aim of the insurrectionists who tried to silence voters by subverting the democratic process.

“What was once subtext for some is now clear as day to many; white supremacy is a threat to each and every one of us. It can cost us our entire democracy if we allow it. Every person of conscience knows that if we continue down this road, justice, fairness, and equality will be empty words. Americans from all walks of life must reject this path of violence, hate, manipulation, and subversion of democracy. Only together can we defeat it.”


The lawsuit, Smith v. Trump, argues that the attack on the Capitol violated the Ku Klux Klan Act and was led by many who are self-described white supremacists. As the lawsuit alleges, former President Trump and others deliberately spread election fraud claims and incited violence against members of Congress and the law enforcement officers whose job was to protect them. Learn more here.

The Smith v. Trump lawsuit builds upon the Lawyers’ Committee’s historic role as the nation’s leading voting rights litigating organization and as convener of the Election Protection coalition—the nation’s largest nonpartisan collective fighting voter suppression.

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