Illinois leaders reflect on anniversary of insurrection attack on U.S. Capitol

Thursday marks one year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol that shocked the nation. 

On Jan. 6, 2021, a deadly attack by rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. The insurrection resulted in five deaths, and at least 140 law enforcement officers were injured. 

On the one-year anniversary of the attack, political leaders weighed in on the current state of democracy. 

"One year ago, a violent attack on our Capitol made it clear just how fragile the American experiment in democracy really is. And while the broken windows have been repaired and many of the rioters have been brought to justice, the truth is that our democracy is at greater risk today than it was back then," former President Barack Obama said. " … Historically, Americans have been defenders of democracy and freedom around the world – especially when it’s under attack. But we can’t serve that role when leading figures in one of our two major political parties are actively undermining democracy at home. We can’t set an example when our own leaders are willing to fabricate lies and cast doubt on the results of free and fair elections.


"Our system of government has never been automatic. If we want our children to grow up in a true democracy – not just one with elections, but one where every voice matters and every vote counts – we need to nurture and protect it. Today, that responsibility falls to all of us. And on this anniversary, nothing is more important."

Gov. J.B. Pritzker weighed in on the anniversary, calling it "a vicious attack on American democracy."

"A violent mob of Trump supporters, fueled by the Big Lie and Trump’s allies, stormed the United States Capitol in an attempt to sabotage the transition of power––a transition that for centuries had been peaceful. Even after these insurrectionists were removed, most Republican lawmakers voted to thwart the will of the majority of voters," Pritzker said. 

Pritzker went on to say that anyone who seeks public office should denounce the actions of those who attacked the Capitol, and "proclaim that Joe Biden was the legitimate winner of the 2020 Presidential election."


" … As Americans, we have a sacred responsibility to stand up for democracy and hold accountable those who incited and carried out this attempted coup. We must not allow the Republican Party to rewrite history and sweep the events of January 6 under the rug," Pritzker said. "The preservation of democracy is not a guarantee, and our 245-year-old experiment in self-governance depends upon our ability to restore respect for our institutions and protect the will of the people as expressed by their votes."

U.S. Rep. Marie Newman, who was inside the Capitol during the riots, called the Jan. 6, 2021 attack one of the darkest days in modern U.S. history – illustrating how fragile democracy can be.

"Three days into being sworn in, I found myself sheltering my staff in our office away from violent domestic terrorists, who vandalized, desecrated and forced their way into the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers from holding up the will of the American people," Newman said. "… It showed us first-hand what happens when inciteful, dangerous rhetoric from our public leaders goes unchecked. And yet, even with the violence and trauma endured that day, I know our nation will prevail. It’s the same reason why at the late hours of that same night, we did not go home but instead, reconvened to certify the election of Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.

"We are forever in debt to the hundreds of officers who risked their lives to protect members of Congress, staffers, cafeteria workers, custodians and everyone at the Capitol campus on January 6th. Today and every day, we must continue to honor their legacy by protecting the very democracy they fought to defend."