USAHello statement and resources on Capitol riots
We at USAHello join millions across the country in condemning violence and standing for a peaceful transfer of power. We believe in the potential of our nation to be a beacon of light, and we hope for a brighter future for us all.
As many of you have seen in the news, January 6th was a very difficult day for our country. A group of several hundred supporters of President Trump violently entered the Capitol building in an effort to stop elected lawmakers from certifying the final results of the Presidential election.
These events were shocking and deeply upsetting to the American public and people watching around the world. As a nation, we hold the peaceful transition of power in the highest regard.
We know that for those who have left behind violence and political conflict in other countries, the images and videos of these events may have been especially difficult to see. We have put together a few resources to help process what has happened.
Caring for yourself
It is important that we all stay safe. American democratic institutions are strong and the violence we have seen will not stop the transition of power, but we may see more riots in the days and weeks to come. If there is a protest in your community, staying home is the safest choice right now.
We must also take care of ourselves and each other. If you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious from these events, you are not alone.
A few things you can do are:
- Talk to a friend, family member or colleague
- Take a break from the news and turn off notifications on your phone
- Spend time outside, even a small amount can help to reset
- Talk to a professional therapist – most are available to help by phone or video.
Understanding what has happened
How the election certification process works
In national elections in the USA, each state is in charge of coordinating the voting process and tallying all votes. Once the states have certified their final votes, the electoral college (representatives from each state) cast their votes. Finally, in January, the US Congress certifies the final vote as a last step prior to the swearing in of a new President.
What happened in 2020
In November of 2020, millions of people voted in the national election. The results showed that Joe Biden won both the popular vote and the electoral vote. President Trump has argued that the results of the election are false and has filed lawsuits against election results in several states. Each of these lawsuits has gone to a court that reviews the evidence presented and makes a ruling. In each case, the courts have ruled that there is not enough evidence to show that there has been fraud in the election and they have upheld the original election results.
Events in 2021
On January 5th, a runoff election was held in the state of Georgia to determine the winners of two Senate races in that state. This election was especially important because if either major political party won both seats, that party would have majority control of the US Senate. The Democratic candidates won in both races. This means that the Democratic party now has a majority in both houses of Congress as well as the Presidency.
The next day – January 6th – both houses of Congress gathered in Washington to officially certify Joe Biden as the winner of the Presidential election. President Trump held a rally with tens of thousands of people and encouraged his supporters not to accept the election results. A group from this rally followed the President’s guidance to go to the Capitol building to protest. When they arrived, it turned into a violent riot, police were attacked and the rioters entered the Capitol Building.
In the end, the police were eventually able to control the rioters and lawmakers were evacuated safely. Five people were killed and dozens were injured. Lawmakers returned to session later that evening to continue their vote and ultimately certified the election results.
What is the difference between a protest and a riot or insurrection?
Peaceful protest has been a part of American history since its founding and is protected by law under the first amendment. People protest for many reasons and most protests are peaceful. When a group of people becomes violent, begins breaking laws and hurting other people and/or property, it is no longer a protected activity and is often referred to as a riot or insurrection.
January 6th’s activities were especially serious because they represented an effort to change the outcome of the election and override the vote of the people. A coup is when a group removes the existing government from power through illegal and often violent means. Although this group was not successful in their attempts, some people see their actions as an attempted coup.
What is happening now
Leaders from all political parties have made forceful statements condemning the violence that took place and made commitments to uphold their duties to protect our democracy and constitution by respecting the results of the 2020 election. Several lawmakers are now calling for President Trump to be removed from office for his remaining two weeks as a result of his role in encouraging the violence that occurred. To do this would require the use of the 25th amendment or impeachment.
Regardless of whether the president is removed, the election results are certified and the next president – Joe Biden – will be sworn in as President of the United States on January 20th.