WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today spoke on the Senate floor to commemorate the first anniversary of the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“One year ago today, a shocking, violent, and unthinkable attack on the U.S. Capitol shook the very foundation of our democracy,” said Peters on the Senate floor. “We are forever indebted to the brave U.S. Capitol Police officers, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and others, whose valiant efforts defended democracy that day and thwarted an attempted insurrection.”
Peters continued: “We cannot take our democracy for granted, it is built on the promise that every American is committed to the same core values of free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, and an accountable government by and for the people. If we lose that shared commitment to continue upholding our most cherished principles, we risk losing the very freedoms and rights that have made our nation a beacon of light for the entire world.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ remarks, click here.
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters led the Senate’s first bipartisan investigative hearings and released a joint bipartisan report on the security, planning, and response failures related to January 6th attack. Peters has also led efforts to address the broader national security threat posed by domestic terrorism. Last year, he convened a hearing with experts to examine the amplification of domestic extremist content on social media platforms. He also convened a two-part hearing with experts representing faith-based, civil rights, and academic and policy research organizations on the continued rise of domestic terrorism, including white supremacist and anti-government violence.
Below is the text of Senator Peters’ remarks, as prepared for delivery:
“One year ago today, a shocking, violent, and unthinkable attack on the U.S. Capitol shook the very foundation of our democracy.
“I was here, in this chamber, as we conducted the ceremonial certification of our election. And I remember, as our proceedings were abruptly paused, the confusion as we all evacuated the chamber. In that moment, none of us were aware of the brutal altercations unfolding all around us, as our heroic law enforcement officers and first responders fended off the violent mob of insurrectionists.
“The images from that day are horrifying, and they are images we can never forget.
“We are forever indebted to the brave U.S. Capitol Police officers, the D.C. Metropolitan Police, the National Guard, and others, whose valiant efforts defended democracy that day and thwarted an attempted insurrection. Not only did this attack leave frontline officers with serious physical injuries, it also took the lives of five officers.
“The attack has also taken an unimaginable mental and emotional toll on the first responders, the Capitol Hill community, and Americans all across our nation, who witnessed the assault on the heart of our democracy with their own eyes.
“Sadly, as we mark this solemn anniversary, the threat we all watched become a violent act one year ago, has only continued to grow.
“In my role as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I was proud to lead the first bipartisan oversight hearings, investigation, and report on the immediate changes needed to secure the Capitol and prevent a future attack.
“Since that report was released last June, nearly 16 of the 20 recommendations we made have been implemented, or are well underway. The Capitol is secure, and we are much better prepared for a potential future attack.
“But let’s be very clear, we must do more to tackle the threat of domestic and violent extremism, especially as more and more people embrace conspiracy theories and outright lies, and report that they believe violence can be justified to get their desired political outcomes.
“Once relegated to the fringes of our society, these kinds of views are now creeping further into the mainstream, and that presents a grave threat to the future of our democracy.
“There is no one easy solution to address this matter. But there are actions that we can take to protect our democracy and strengthen it for generations to come.
“Most significantly, our nation’s political leaders, no matter their political affiliation, must condemn the violence that occurred on these grounds one year ago, and speak out against the lies and conspiracies about the 2020 election that have compelled further threats and acts of violence.
“We must also address how this disinformation, and other extremist content, spreads online, reaches new audiences, and drives too many people down a rabbit hole of radicalization.
“We have seen all too clearly how the spread of such extreme content online can swiftly become real-world violence. More action must be taken to limit the amplification of disinformation and extreme content online, and to prevent extremist views from reaching that tipping point into violent acts.
“And our counterterrorism agencies must ensure they are effectively focusing on the threat at hand, by ensuring they have sufficient personnel and resources devoted to domestic terrorism and domestic violent extremism.
“Finally, today, and every day, all Americans must remain committed to protecting our democracy. We cannot take our democracy for granted, it is built on the promise that every American is committed to the same core values of free and fair elections, the peaceful transfer of power, and an accountable government by and for the people.
“If we lose that shared commitment to continue upholding our most cherished principles, we risk losing the very freedoms and rights that have made our nation a beacon of light for the entire world.
“Every member of this body, and every American, has a vital role to play in strengthening our democracy. Elected officials on both sides of the aisle, and at every level of government, should make clear that the lies and violent actions that took place on January 6th have no place in our country, and commit themselves to restoring faith in our democratic institutions, by ensuring that everyone can make their voices heard in our democracy through the ballot box.
“One year ago, we saw our democracy endure against a violent attempted insurrection.
“But we must be very clear-eyed moving forward, we cannot let efforts to weaken and erode confidence in the future of our democracy continue.
“Let’s come together, and tackle the very real challenges our nation faces. In times of adversity, our country persevered because we came together as one. We must channel that spirit as we strive to create a more perfect union today, tomorrow, and for generations to come.”