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President’s Statement on the Capitol Attack
January 08, 2021
Dear LaGuardia Students, Faculty, and Staff –
I never imagined preparing a message to you in response to an attack on our nation – a vicious assault against our democracy, laws, and institutions. This violent coup attempt was carried out by hateful American citizens encouraged by the president of the United States. It saddens me to write these words, to acknowledge that this really just happened right before our eyes. It’s unbelievable.
The violence we saw on Wednesday at the Capitol was a horrifying attack by a gang of thugs, urged on by President Trump and his supplicants, that sought to undermine the will of voters and destroy the foundations of our democracy. Their seditious acts cannot go unpunished.
LaGuardia Community College most firmly denounces this atrocity, and sees the actions of the individuals involved, directly or indirectly, as abhorrent and completely unacceptable. Their violence, racism, and rejection of democratic norms is an insult to the values we hold at LaGuardia, a community that strives to encourage civil discourse, critical thinking, tolerance, respect, and inclusion.
Let’s be clear: the desecration by Trump-supporting rioters of the halls of Congress was not a one-off event. It was the result of the past four years of the president’s poisonous and divisive rhetoric, his praise of racist mobs (as we saw in Charlottesville), his hate, prejudice, misogyny, slander, and lies.
And how is it that a large group of angry, white protesters – some actually armed -- met so little police resistance at the Capitol steps? Did you see the images of Capitol Police officers opening a barricade to let the mob up? Or of the officer pausing for a selfie? Had those protesters been people of color I have no doubt they would have been met with a very different police response. One only has to recall the actions of President Trump when Black Lives Matter protesters were met by the U.S. military with teargas when they legally protested outside the White House this summer.
Senator Schumer was right when on Wednesday evening he said that January 6th would live in infamy. Our pain, anger, and sadness are real. This has been traumatic. If you are upset or stressed and would like to speak to someone, please let us know and we’ll try to help. LaGuardia is a caring community, and we have support for anyone who needs it.
I am reminded by the awful events at the Capitol that we can’t take things for granted – that our democracy is a work in progress, and it is fragile. It needs our vigilant defense as responsible citizens who heed our civic obligations, work to strengthen our communities, and care for those in need. And it requires places like LaGuardia to prepare an educated, mindful, engaged citizenry that will protect and enhance the values we cherish, and lead us toward the just society we seek.
Please feel free to email me with your thoughts, concerns, and suggestions.
Best wishes for brighter days ahead,