Aurora Institute President & CEO Susan Patrick issued the following statement in the aftermath of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol and attempt to overturn the presidential election and thwart a peaceful transition of power:
“Aurora Institute vehemently condemns the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. The actions, and their antecedents in violent rhetoric, cast a dark shadow over an American tradition that has played out peacefully for two centuries. This brand of domestic terrorism is an assault on democracy, and yet another trauma heaped on a nation already beset by challenges we’ve yet to overcome.”
Hundreds of rioters, comprised mostly of white people, stormed the Capitol building Wednesday evening as Congress met to certify electoral college votes for President-elect Joe Biden. In stark contrast to the display of security during Black Lives Matter protests, yesterday’s crowds were met with little resistance by the many police forces who secure the area. They toppled barricades, scaled walls, broke windows, looted member offices, and, in many instances, removed American flags and replaced them with Trump flags. For a brief period, members of Congress were in lockdown or trapped as security attempted to usher them to safety. Five people needlessly lost their lives.
The images are unbearable, and this is an international embarrassment. Our hypocrisy as a world democratic leader is on full display.
We are deeply disturbed by these events, which represent a direct attack on our government, our democracy, and our way of life. We’ve never seen anything like this; there’s no parallel in American history for the deplorable acts we witnessed yesterday.
More than anything, the event demonstrates the danger of allowing white supremacy to foment and fester in our culture. Supported by the current president, it was white supremacy that incited these acts, and it was white supremacy that allowed many of those committing crimes to simply go home unpunished.
This was sedition.
18 U.S. Code § 2384 reads: “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”
The backdrop to these events is our nation’s drifting in and out of consciousness from COVID-19, upending institutions and ways of life that we hold dear, most especially the work of K-12 education. No doubt, yesterday’s attempted coup compounds the already immense stress many are enduring. The pandemic, along with incidents of racial injustice, continues to expose deep inequities and even deeper understandings of the serious disparities within our nation’s failure to acknowledge and address longstanding brutal histories of racial inequity. Racialized fears have been stoked from the highest dais in the land, and they are the root of the increasingly violent right-wing extremism we are seeing on a frighteningly more frequent basis.
This is a national crisis that must be addressed on multiple fronts with collective action. We are compelled to speak up and call out the silence of allies. The mission of the Aurora Institute is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all.
Our youth deserve to live in an open, inclusive, free, anti-racist society. Our education system operates within this context. We must realize we live in a context of a threatened democracy that can only succeed with an educated populace, where all people are created equal, where all children learn and succeed with opportunities to pursue healthy, happy, prosperous lives. We must work to make this true, but just two years ago, a Journal of Democracy article reported that only 30% of today’s young people believe it is “essential” to live in a country that is governed democratically.
This is a national crisis and an omen for our future. The painful truth is that today thousands of educators will attempt to make this a teachable moment, but our children plainly see a lack of moral standing at the very highest levels of our government and society.
Every American institution is responsible for righting this wrong. We have a responsibility to check our integrity on our vision toward an open, just, fair, and equitable society. History is being written. Our children are watching, and they will follow our lead. It’s time to acknowledge who we really are and commit to who we want to be as a nation.
Aurora’s mission is to drive the transformation of education systems and accelerate the advancement of breakthrough policies and practices to ensure high-quality learning for all. Aurora is shaping the future of teaching and learning for more than 14 million students through its work in policy advocacy, research, and field-building/convening. We work on systems change in K-12 education, promote best practices, examine policy barriers, and make recommendations for change. Aurora has a national and global view of education innovation and lifts up promising policies and practices that yield improved outcomes for students. Aurora envisions a world where all people are empowered to attain the knowledge, skills, and dispositions necessary to achieve success, contribute to their communities, and advance society.