Statement of Legal Aid at Work President Joan Graff on the Violent Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6

U.S. Capitol Building with Dark Storm Clouds

January 6, 2021 will go down in history as a day of ignominy and reckoning in our Nation. We saw the very heart of our democracy under violent attack by right wing rioters aiming to disrupt the orderly transfer of power to the duly and fairly elected President and Vice-President elect—Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. And we watched in horror as the outgoing President egged the mob on while sequestered in the West Wing, as he tuned in to watching the violent chaos on TV.

To be clear, this was in no way a protest gone awry, as those trying to justify the events after the fact have tried to say. It was a calculated breach of our social contract, fomented by those from the highest positions of power in our government, including President Trump.

Nor can we say that this racist display “is not who we are,” as some have tried to claim. We must acknowledge that the roots of intolerance, racism, and injustice run deep into the fabric of our country. At our democracy’s foundation is our shared legacy of slavery and oppression suffered by Native Americans, immigrants, women, persons with disabilities, and others who seek fair, equitable, and respectful treatment.

Our country’s leader has desecrated our beloved Constitution and has cast aside the rule of law while currying the favor of his base that feeds on white supremacy, nationalism, and racial and religious hatred. This was in full view as we witnessed waves of racists rampage through the Capitol waving Confederate flags with little interference from security forces—perhaps owing the race of the attackers which was, as we know, was overwhelmingly white. It is noteworthy that the iconic building under attack, is the symbol of our nation and was built by Black, enslaved persons. And centuries later, Black workers on the Hill, who had survived the assault on our government, were charged with the cleanup so that the government could get on with its business.

Legal Aid at Work will continue to advocate for our clients and their communities during these dark times. And we will bring to our work the values we hold dear—racial, social, and economic justice and the rule of law.



Joan Graff
Legal Aid at Work

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