Extremism and Insurrection: In wake of eighth Jan. 6 hearing, SPLC urges accountability, protection of democracy
Over the last month, the bipartisan House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection has methodically documented concerted efforts by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn the 2020 election despite knowing he lost.
The committee has presented substantial evidence of coordination between Trump and his supporters – including current members of Congress and two extremist groups the Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked for years. These groups acted as a violent vanguard to direct the energy of other protesters in the deadly attack on our nation’s Capitol.
We are pleased that the committee highlighted the key role these groups – including the Proud Boys, one of the most violent extremist groups in the U.S. at the time of the insurrection, and the antigovernment, heavily armed Oath Keepers – played in attacking the Capitol, as well as highlighting the direct connection between them and Trump.
Yet, these disturbing revelations are just the beginning. The SPLC has documented that the threat of political violence has substantially increased since Jan. 6. The work of the committee to ensure transparency, accountability and real consequences for the planners and perpetrators of the Capitol insurrection – and those who inspired and funded their activities – is essential for addressing the ongoing threat to our democracy.
Jan. 6 was a warning that cannot be ignored. The disinformation campaign contrived by leaders of the insurrection has prompted efforts to sabotage future elections and our fundamental right to choose our own leaders. These efforts include the enactment of dozens of discriminatory anti-voter laws that disproportionately disenfranchise voters of color and are designed to control election outcomes, as well as the harassment and intimidation of state and local election officials for doing their jobs. The ongoing threat to our democracy is clear and underscores the urgent need to pass legislation to protect our democratic election procedures and to combat hate, extremism and misinformation.
Finally, the continuing work of the committee must prompt action to prove that no one is above the law in a democracy. We are pleased that the Department of Justice has charged hundreds of planners and perpetrators of the deadly insurrection with serious criminal charges – including seditious conspiracy. The SPLC will continue to advocate that anyone criminally responsible for the attempt to undo a democratic election must face the full range of consequences for their actions.
Top picture: Newly released footage is played during a House select committee hearing on the Jan. 6 insurrection Thursday, July 21, 2022, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Craig Hudson/AP Images)