On the anniversary of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, politicians from across Illinois and around Chicago shared messages and reflected on the attack one year later.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker took the anniversary to instruct lawmakers and politicians to denounce the actions of insurrectionists and former President Donald Trump, while working to preserve democracy.
"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. 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," Pritzker said in a statement.
The governor added that he promises to do all in his power to ensure the sacrifices made by Capitol Police officers on Jan. 6, 2021 were not made in vain.
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Rep. Marie Newman of Illinois' third district said she remains in disbelief that three days after being sworn into office, she found herself sheltering in her office away from "violent domestic terrorists, who vandalized, desecrated and forced their way into the U.S. Capitol."
“January 6th, 2021 was undoubtedly one of the darkest days in modern American history, one that illustrated just how fragile our democracy can be. 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," Newman said in a statement.
"I'm blown away that we're a year out now yesterday," said Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger. "Democracies aren't defined only by their bad days. They're defined by defined by how they come back from those bad days, and that's where history is watching."
Illinois Rep. Mike Quigley called the Capitol insurrection "one of the worst attacks on our democracy in history."
"I am still grateful every day for the heroic efforts of the U.S. Capitol Police and Metro Police who kept my colleagues and I from coming to harm that day. They certainly saved my life and I believe that they may have also saved our republic," Quigley said in a statement.
Illinois Rep. Brad Schneider recalled a crowd attempting to break through Congress' chamber doors at this time last year as lawmakers escaped from the attack.
“We rightly celebrate the victory of democracy over violence last year. But we must also recognize that, one year later, many of the underlying causes of the tragedy of January 6th remain – including continued disinformation campaigns, hyperpartisanship, and emboldened extremists willing to circumvent our electoral system," Schneider said in a statement.
Several politicians commended the way Congress went back later that night, despite the unexpected events earlier in the day, to solidify the election of President Joe Biden by certifying the count of electoral votes.
Chicago Ald. Gilbert Villegas released the following statement on the attack:
"I took an oath 34 years ago as a United States Marine to defend our country against all enemies foreign and domestic. Today is a reminder that the perpetrators of the January 6th insurrection against our Capitol savagely and viciously attacked our law enforcement community, our elected representatives, and our democracy. My oath has no expiration date and as the next member of Congress from the 3rd District of Illinois, I will protect and defend this country from anyone, anytime, no matter the cost."
President Joe Biden on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot warned that the threats to democracy witnessed during that invasion did not end when the violence stopped.
Biden in a fiery speech Thursday condemned the "web of lies" spread by former President Donald Trump, blaming him directly for fomenting the attackers who tried to overturn the 2020 election.
"You can't love your country only when you win. You can't obey the law only when it's convenient. You can't be patriotic when you embrace and enable lies," Biden said in an address from the Capitol.
"The lies that drove the anger and madness we saw in this place, they have not abated," Biden said. "So we have to be firm, resolute and unyielding in our defense of the right to vote and have that vote counted."
The invasion sparked an unprecedented criminal investigation by the Department of Justice and a sweeping probe by a bipartisan House select committee. The riot, as well as a rise in Republican-led efforts to subvert elections at the state level, have also pushed Democrats to pursue new legislation to strengthen voting rights.
Although Biden did not mention Trump by name, the former president quickly accused Biden of having "used my name" to distract from his own political challenges. Trump also repeated his false claim that he won the 2020 presidential election, which he lost by more than 6 million voters.