January 6, 2021; A year after Capitol Hill insurrection, Indian-Americans divided on how and why it happened

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Vice President Kamala Harris addressing at Capitol Hill to mark the first anniversary of Capitol Hill riots on Thursday, January 6, 2022. Photo : twitter.com/VP

Exactly a year after armed insurrectionists stormed and violently attacked the United States Capitol, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the nation from Capitol Hill on Thursday, January 6, 2022, squarely placing the blame on former President Donald Trump.

Even as Indian-American Democrats, including the lawmakers who were inside the chambers on Capitol Hill that day, saw the former President as the one inciting the riots, Republicans placed the blame for the violence on liberal policies followed by past Democratic administrations.

Vowing to bring the perpetrators involved, in the dastardly attacks, to justice, both Biden and Harris highlighted strengthening democracy, respecting the rule of law, ensuring domestic tranquility, protecting the right to vote, conducting free and fair elections, and passing the voting rights bill, among other critical issues.

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“One year ago today, in this sacred place, democracy was attacked — simply attacked.  The will of the people was under assault.  The Constitution — our Constitution — faced the gravest of threats,” said Biden thanking the outnumbered law enforcement officers for saving and protecting the rule of law. forces for saving the day. “Our democracy held.  We the people endured.  And we the people prevailed.”

President Joe Biden addressing at Capitol Hill to mark the first anniversary of Capitol Hill riots on Thursday, January 6, 2022. Photo: twitter.com/JoeBiden

He accused Trump’s supporters of trying to rewrite history and see Election Day as a day of insurrection and the violence as an expression of the will of the people. “Can you think of a more twisted way to look at this country — to look at America?  I cannot. Here’s the truth: The election of 2020 was the greatest demonstration of democracy in the history of this country. More of you voted in that election than have ever voted in all of American history.  Over 150 million Americans went to the polls and voted that day in a pandemic — some at great risk to their lives. They should be applauded, not attacked.”

On January 6, 2021, Harris was not just Vice President-elect, but also a U.S. Senator.

“I was here at the Capitol that morning at a classified hearing with fellow members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Hours later, the gates of the Capitol, were breached. I had left. But my thoughts immediately turned not only to my colleagues, but to my staff, who had been forced to seek refuge in our office, converting filing cabinets, into barricades,” Harris said in an emotional recounting.

She recalled that whenever she meets young people, they often question her about the state of our democracy and specifically about January 6th. Her response is, “January 6th reflects the dual nature of democracy — its fragility and its strength. You see, the strength of democracy is the rule of law. The strength of democracy is the principle that everyone should be treated equally, that elections should be free and fair, that corruption should be given no quarter. The strength of democracy is that it empowers the people,” she tells them.

“And the fragility of democracy is this: that if we are not vigilant, if we do not defend it, democracy simply will not stand; it will falter and fail. The violent assault that took place here, the very fact of how close we came to an election overturned — that reflects the fragility of democracy.”

Both Biden and Harris appreciated the determination of US Representatives, U.S. Senators, and their staff, Republicans and Democrats, for not backing down in the face of adversity and fulfilling their commitment to certify the elections on January 6, 2021, as required by the Constitution of the United States. To commemorate the first anniversary of the riots, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi led a moment of silence, and later lawmakers held a prayer vigil on the steps of Capitol.

Reaction Of Indian-Americans

Indian-American lawmakers who were present inside the Capitol building during the attack, also narrated their frightening experiences on the first anniversary of the riots.

Congresswoman, Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, who was present and on crutches due to a recent knee replacement surgery, said she did not know if should would live or die during the attack.

“Let us not gloss over the fact that in the year since this deadly attack, we have all had to do our jobs and be human. We have done that in the face of denials of truth and rewriting of history from the very colleagues who were running for their own lives that day,” Jayapal said. “So I am once again reminded that being human is a courageous act. It means you are willing to fight for the things that are the hardest to even be disappointed or hurt or angered, but to still do what is right, and what is just because that is the only way that change happens. Our courage and our resolve only grow from this crisis and the responsibility that is upon us to protect our democracy for years to come.”

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Illinois, tweeted, “[o]n this day last year, I was evacuated from my office after they discovered a bomb placed 200 feet away. The January 6th insurrections were not our America, and I am working in Congress to ensure that our democracy and our people are protected. I will never forget the rioter sitting next to me on the 6 a.m. airplane from DC to Chicago the next day, scrolling through pictures on her phone of the inside of the Capitol Building from during the attack.”

Congressman Ro Khanna, D-California, said “On January 6th, 2021, insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol. It was one of the darkest days for our nation and one that we are still working to recover from. I am forever indebted to the brave officers of the U.S. Capitol Police, many of whom are still grappling with emotional and physical trauma from that day.”

Khanna, who is on the Select Committee investigating the 2021 riots, said they were still learning about the attempts to overturn the results of the elections. “The Select Committee investigating the attack is doing a thorough job examining the evidence to ensure that the American people have a full accounting of the events on, and leading up to, January 6th.”

News India Times spoke with a few Indian American Republicans to get their reactions on the first anniversary of January 6th riots. They condemned violence, but attributed the January 6th riots to liberal policies adopted by Democratic leaders.

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who kept insurrectionists at bay during the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on Capitol Hill, in light brown coat, escorts Vice-President-elect Kamala Devi Harris at the presidential inauguration Jan. 20, 2021. Photo: videograb The Washington Post

Puneet Ahluwalia, a former Republican Candidate for Lt. Governor in Virginia, said “any violence is wrong and unacceptable. I offer my condolences to families who lost their loved ones during and after the rioting.”

At the same time, Ahluwalia said, “The Democrats are making this out to be an insurrection which it was not. It was a backlash on an entire summer of lawlessness, and rioting by Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other rogue elements.”

According to Ahlualia, “When Democratic politicians, District Attorneys, and Mayors do not toe the rule of law and lack accountability combined with chants on defunding the police, it results in bad actors breaking the law. Those who participated on the January 6th riots do not represent conservative values and principles.”

Executive Chairman & CEO of Indian American International Chamber of Commerce (IAICC), KV Kumar, a former Republican turned Independent said, “What happened on January 6th 2021 should have never happened. The march was meant to be a peaceful one. It’s such a pity – the President of the United States neither should have never encouraged an event like that in the first place, nor should have kept silent about it for as long as he did. Neither one of the parties should have used it to their advantage. It’s is so sad – neither Dr. Martin Luther King nor Mahatma Gandhi would have approved such an atrocity.”

Another Indian American Republican from California, Amrit Bhandari, asserted that the attack on Capitol Hill had nothing to do with President Trump, Republicans or white supremacy groups.

Bhandari, who was delegate at the Republican National Convention in 2016, said that the riots happened because people are fed up with liberal policies of Democrats, who support open borders and defunding the police.

“Most cities are controlled by Mayors belonging to the Democratic Party and they committed voter fraud to elect Joe Biden as the US President,” Bhandari claimed, adding, “The Democrats stole the election in Georgia and neither the media nor the Republicans were allowed to witness the recounting of votes.”

He also characterized the media as being anti-Trump and anti-Republican, and continues to be confident that Republicans will win the White House in 2024.

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