The Jan. 6 Capitol riot gave ‘new courage to white supremacists,’ activists say

During former President Donald Trump's term, KKK members marched without hoods in Virginia. Now, a man convicted of a felony and who spent more than two years in prison for storming the Capitol is running for Congress.

Jan. 6 Insurrection,
FILE - Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump stand outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. On Monday, Dec. 19, the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol will hold its final meeting. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

Today marks three years since MAGA supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol and attempted to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, and a number of activists and lawmakers said they think the insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s lack of incarceration have emboldened racists.

The insurrection “has given new courage to white supremacists,” Svante Myrick, president of People for the American Way, an organization founded to combat extremism.

“When Donald Trump was elected, you remember that the Klan marched – one of the first times in history – without their hoods through the streets of Charlottesville because they were so sure that they would be protected by the U.S. government,” Myrick said. “Make no mistake. Although hundreds of people have gone to prison for their role in this riot, the fact that Donald Trump has not been held accountable for his part is still giving courage to people to follow him off the deep end and away from democracy towards fascism.”

January 6, 2021 insurrection,
Insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump breach the Capitol in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, said she questions whether democracy will survive in this nation and sits among Congressional leaders who think the actions of Jan. 6 rioters were justified.

“…If this January 6th insurrection is minimized in the way that Trump and his followers want it to be, the question is, “When will we see another one?” Crockett inquired.

On Jan. 6, 2021, hundreds of Trump supporters who believed election resulrs were inaccurate because of voter fraud, attempted to stop the transfer of power from then-President Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. The Department of Justice debunked that conspiracy and found no evidence to support the voter fraud claim.

Prosecutors charged more than 1200 people for involvement in the insurrection. One of them was Jacob Chansley, a “QAnon shaman” who is known for wearing horns during the riot. Last month, Chansley announced his candidacy for Arizona’s 8th Congressional District seat after U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz. said she would not seek reelection. Chansley served 27 months of a 41-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to the felony charge of obstruction of an official proceeding.

U.S. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. said Chansley can seek office because “the 14th amendment only disqualifies people who were in office before [the insurrection] who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. So presumably the guy with the lamb’s horns has a right to run.”

“I assume the voters of his district will demonstrate the wisdom not to elect an insurrectionists and a seditionist to public office,” Raskin added.

Crockett said the 45th president diminished previous standards by which candidates are judged. “Trump has lowered the bar so low that there is no bar. This is how we ended up with the [U.S. Rep. Lauren] Boeberts of the world and Marjorie Taylor Greene,” people who support the MAGA platform, she said.

Although Trump is a defendant in four criminal cases, he leads Biden in polls. Some people have said they believe he has a real shot at winning the presidency.

“Trump is absolutely privileged,” Crockett said. “As a former criminal defense attorney, I can tell you I never had anybody with 91 indictments, ever. I think the most that I had is one client who had close to 40 indictments between the feds and the state. And guess what? He never got out.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump,
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a political rally while campaigning for the GOP nomination in the 2024 election at Erie Insurance Arena on July 29, 2023 in Erie, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

“Trump is out walking around,” Crockett added.

Myrick said that he is “deeply disappointed” that Trump “is still walking free” and that his name appears on some ballots. “He will almost definitely be the Republican nominee, and I think at this point the favorite to win the presidency,” he said.

“My hope is that all of us who believe him to be a threat band together, unite despite our differences and come together at the ballot box to beat him,” said Myrick. “I’m hopeful. Just like we stopped him four years ago, we can stop him again.”

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