Nonprofit Leaders React To Rioting At The Capitol

Often left to pick-up the pieces after a traumatic national event, leaders at the nation’s nonprofits are weighing in on the riot by supporters of President Donald J. Trump at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., and its impact on the nation.

Here are some of their statements:

Communities In Schools

Arlington, Va. 

Rey Saldana, president & CEO

“Yesterday morning our nation woke up to watch democracy in action. By day’s end, we were witnessing our democracy under threat.

The very sacred institutions of our country were attacked by people who carried weapons, as well as words and symbols of white supremacy into the halls of the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to undermine the foundations of our democracy. Those individuals claimed to have a legitimate grievance, but their actions were not about change. Instead, they were intended to paralyze our government and to silence the will of the people.

Their violence and intimidation was, in large part, fueled by incendiary rhetoric from the White House. Now, more than ever it is important for all our elected leaders to moderate their language. But it is just as important for them and for all of us not to remain silent about what is happening in this moment. The whole world is watching and listening. So too, are our children. 

We owe our children something better than what they witnessed and something more than what they heard yesterday.  

Last November, Communities In Schools (CIS ) told our young people that in America, every voice matters. And we reminded them that in an election, every vote counts. They watched as the ballots were fairly counted and understood that the majority spoke. Joe Biden is the President-elect.

Now we adults must reassure our youth that we are still a nation of laws and that our democracy still works. As one example, we can point to our members of Congress who, despite what transpired yesterday, returned to the people’s work and the people’s house to certify the election. Like them, we all must not be paralyzed nor frightened into inaction.

We often teach our children about the importance of resilience. We must convey to them that is what is going to be required for us to build and maintain a healthy democracy. It’s also what is necessary for us as a country to break down systemic barriers in our institutions that stand in the way of equitable outcomes for everyone.

But we also must tell our young people an uncomfortable truth. The calls for progress in this country will sometimes be met by reactionary behavior. It is our job, as the caring adults in their lives, to prepare them. Our youth need to understand what a peaceful and productive expression of opinion looks like in a democracy and be able to distinguish it from the voices of intimidation.

We also need to have courageous conversations with our young people, especially those who are Black brown and indigenous, who saw something yesterday that reminded them that people of color can live in the same country as white people but with a different set of rules. They know that to be true because they experience hateful speech, unfair treatment and supremacist behavior in their own communities. We need to empower them to call out racial and social injustice, equip them to stand up for their rights and ensure that their voices are heard. 

That is the work of Communities In Schools, and we cannot do it alone. We seek to make changes in our schools, our community and our society, so that all young people can reach their potential in school and beyond regardless of their race, zip code, or socioeconomic background.

We call on all our supporters, our partners, our elected leaders, business officials, and faith leaders to recommit to this work and to join us in speaking out forcefully in support of peace, justice, and democracy.

Now is the time for us to all come together and unite in support of a bright future for our country and our kids.

*****

NTEN

Portland, Ore.

Amy Sample Ward, CEO

I’m sure you’re watching the news with a mix of anger, disgust, and perhaps even a little fear that domestic terrorists easily stormed the halls of the Capitol today.

President Trump incited an angry mob as part of his ongoing attempt to undo President-elect Biden’s election. NTEN supports the calls for the House of Representatives to impeach President Trump. We also support calls for the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him from office immediately.

Meanwhile, our immediate challenges continue to need our combined efforts. Even during a coup, nonprofits across the U.S. are providing community members with food, shelter, and health care. It’s alright to feel exhausted and overwhelmed. But you’re not alone in the struggle.

We see you. We support you. And we’re here with you.

There is so much work ahead of us to create a just and racially equitable world, made even more visible with today’s attempted coup. Please take care of yourself, your family, and your team. We are still amidst a global pandemic. We will not reach that new world in one day. Rest as you can tonight. Tomorrow we can and will pick up this work together.

*****

 ASAE – The Center For Association Leadership

Washington, D.C.

ASAE strongly condemns the violent, unlawful revolt against civil authority and America’s democratic process that took place yesterday at the U.S. Capitol. While peaceful protest is a hallmark of our republic, the breach by rioters of the Capitol building and disruption of a Constitutionally mandated duty of Congress to certify the outcome of the 2020 presidential election resulted in death, endangered many more lives and was an assault on our democracy. 

Special thanks to members of the Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., and other law enforcement officials for putting themselves in harm’s way, protecting elected officials and their staffs, and minimizing the violence in our Nation’s Capital yesterday. The peaceful and orderly transfer of power following a certified U.S. election and the rule of law must be protected, no matter the political differences of our fellow citizens. The fortitude of members of Congress to return to the Capitol after the mob was finally cleared to complete their duties and affirm President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory is commendable and we also thank them for their dedicated public service. 

While the vast majority of Americans were shaken and outraged at the images of ill-informed and misled insurrectionists desecrating the U.S. Capitol, it is time to put an end to the divisive rhetoric and outright fabrications that motivated this assault. It is also time to examine the stark contrast between the law enforcement response to these rioters intent on violence and the strong-arm tactics employed to quell protests for racial justice that took place last year in Washington and other parts of the country. 

Associations have a proven and unique ability to bring together individuals in support of a common purpose. Differences of opinion, background and experiences are welcomed. It is ASAE’s hope and intention to be a unifying force in upholding faith in our institutions, our ability to engage in civil discourse for the good of society, and in America’s role as a beacon of democracy to the world.

*****

Alliance for Justice

Washington, D.C.

Nan Aron, president

When armed combatants lay siege to the center of our democracy, they threaten the fabric of our lives as we know it. This attack on the Capitol was directly incited by President Trump, Republican lawmakers, and his other allies disputing the obvious and inevitable outcome of the November election. Astonishingly, many have already doubled down on the very disinformation campaign that fomented this violence, desperate in their failing effort to steal back power following a decisive election loss.

Wednesday’s attempted insurrection threatened the safety of our lawmakers and their staff, employees in and around the Capitol, and the hundreds of thousands of people who live and work in Washington, D.C. Astonishingly, police were documented allowing these seditionists into the Capitol, taking pictures with them, gently escorting them back down the stairs, and releasing them without arrest. It is a jarring reminder that this country offers up two completely different systems of law and order based on the color of your skin. Black and brown people lose their lives at police hands without even committing a crime, while violent, white right-wing terrorists receive police escorts to commit capital felonies.

Democracy is only as strong as the people’s faith in its integrity. Justice is only as strong as the people’s trust in its fairness. This unprecedented attack epitomizes the unrelenting war on democracy and justice waged by the cult of Trump and the Republican Party under his thrall. There are reasons to be optimistic about the massive shift in political control taking place this month, but we cannot expect that alone to solve our problems. 

We must demand better of ourselves. Our nation has endured too much to repeat the same mistakes of the past, and we must hold ourselves accountable for the vulnerabilities that persist in our society. While some are already trying to rewrite history, we must not forget how low our nation sank to arrive at yesterday’s events.

AFJ will continue to fight for the rule of law and equal justice for all. There is an immense challenge before us, but it is not insurmountable with truth and humanity as our guides.”  

*****

League of Women Voters 

Washington, D.C.

Dr. Deborah Turner, president & Virginia Kase, CEO

This is a dark day in the history of the United States of America. Today’s activity on Capitol Hill should have been a procedural exercise to finalize the 2020 election. Instead, our nation’s Capitol was attacked by domestic terrorists seeking to invalidate the will of the people.

The actions by these terrorists have no impact on the results of the election. This violent mob was encouraged by an outgoing president who lost re-election in a free and fair election.

Donald Trump has emboldened and empowered violent agitators, perpetuated dangerous conspiracy theories, and dishonored the office of the President. Furthermore, the members of Congress who continuously lie to the American people about the proven legitimacy of this election are also responsible for today’s horrific events. There is blood on their hands.

The League of Women Voters of the United States calls on President Donald Trump to concede the election immediately. We call on all members of Congress to respect the certification process, condemn the actions of these terrorists, and support a peaceful inauguration on January 20th.

*****

Independent Sector

Washington, D.C.

Daniel J. Cardinali, president & CEO

Independent Sector firmly believes that people in America have the right to come together and use their civic voice to express ideas and beliefs to elected leaders.

As a matter of principle, we deplore violence, intimidation, and vandalism, especially which jeopardize the peaceful transition of U.S. democratic power, as we saw in Washington, DC today. A line was clearly crossed. By any metric, this is unacceptable as it jeopardizes public safety, puts people’s lives at risk, and derails our revered election system.

The actions that we and the world witnessed today at the U.S. Capitol – which turned into a deadly riot – go against our nation’s shared value of accepting and honoring the democratic tradition of letting American citizens elect their leaders and following a peaceful transition of political power.

We welcome the fact that the 2020 election – which finished today in Georgia – resulted in a historic turnout of voters of all political backgrounds in our nation’s cities, suburbs, and rural communities. We support the practice of daily democracy in America, as well as nonviolence in our communities.

Social change in society occurs through peaceful civic participation and the casting, counting, and certification of votes – actions that we must stand collectively together to protect so all of us – in our diverse nation – can thrive.”

*****

National Council of Nonprofits

Washington, D.C.

Tim Delaney, president & CEO

American democracy came under siege today. America’s charitable organizations are united in opposition to the actions of the mob that stormed the ultimate symbol of democracy, the U.S. Capitol. The First Amendment protects the right to peaceably assemble and to petition government for a redress of grievances. It does not protect those who planned, participated, and incited a mob to act with violence rather than act peacefully and delivered insurrection instead of petitions.

As we all take a step back and call for calm, we should also resolve to hold violators accountable for their unlawful actions to prevent further outbreaks. In a democracy, disagreement is natural. Debate is healthy. But violence and mob rule are unacceptable.”

*****

ADL (Anti-Defamation League)

New York City, N.Y.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO

As ADL has said again and again, extremists must be taken at their word. First there was volatile rhetoric online, then explicit calls to violence and now people are acting on those calls in the nation’s capital and flagrantly breaking the law. It must end now.

The President has promoted sedition and incited violence. People assaulting law enforcement officers or breaching government buildings must be arrested and held accountable.

More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office. President Trump has a responsibility to call for an end to this violence and unrest that he has sowed. His campaign of disinformation is a clear and present danger to our democracy. 

But until such time as that happens, social media companies should suspend his accounts ASAP as they would do for anyone else advocating disinformation and promoting violence. It’s time.

*****

National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics

Nicole Lamoureux, president & CEO

Alexandria, Va.

We want to take a moment to address the violence that occurred at our Capitol yesterday.

For the NAFC, the Capitol isn’t just a building seen on TV. It is where we work, it is where our friends work. We visit that building and meet with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. We plead the case for millions of uninsured people. Our job isn’t about Republican or Democrat, our job is to help hard working people get access to health care. 

Do we get angry? Yes. Do we think many laws or actions are unfair? Yes. However, our job is to understand the laws and to work within those confines.

Yesterday, our nation’s Capitol Building was attacked. Not by protestors, but by those who wanted to cause chaos and damage not only to the building but to our democracy. People lost their lives, there was a noose hung on the lawn of the Capitol building, a confederate flag was carried through the halls of the Capitol, there were lives lost and so many were in lockdown praying they would live through the day. NAFC staff office and homes were under curfew. We were beyond heartbroken and disillusioned over these events.

However, today is a new day.  Congress resumed to continue their work last night and we at the NAFC, along with so many others, will continue to go to work.  We will continue to stand for what is right and we will continue to work for change. 

Because we cannot continue to go on like this as a country or as a people. We need to do better. Each of us. All of us.

 *****

 Hispanics in Philanthropy

Oakland, Calif./Washington, D.C.

Ana Marie Argilagos, president & CEO

We are deeply saddened and horrified by the images of violence and chaos in the U.S. Capitol yesterday. We witnessed a violent mob of white supremacists intrude on our democracy in action. This will go down as a stain on our democracy and national security. 

HIP calls on our leaders to condemn this insurrection and demand that all the perpetrators be held accountable. As this hateful rhetoric has intensified so has our responsibility to protect our democracy and the will of the people. We must focus on the importance of empowering our communities to vote, enacting protections so people can safely and easily be involved in civic engagement, overhauling our law enforcement and justice systems to uphold racial equity, and working to continue strengthening our democracy. 

*****

YMCA of the USA

Chicago, Ill.

Kevin Washington, president & CEO

The Y has a long, proud history of encouraging participation in our nation’s democracy. The storming of the U.S. Capitol yesterday — a mob action spurred by divisive rhetoric, disinformation and bad faith — was an affront to this important work and our core values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. I condemn it in the strongest terms possible, and I hope those who incited violence and broke the law are held accountable and that peace prevails. My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their lives or were injured and their loved ones.

I take some comfort that the election certification rioters hoped to disrupt continued and was completed. I am grateful for the resolve of the elected officials and civil servants who discharged their duties undeterred and honored our nation’s democratic values in support of the Constitution. Our democracy held, but yesterday was a stark reminder that it is fragile, and preserving it requires people of courage, character and good faith. People of all ages, races, genders, backgrounds and political perspectives. People who believe in the promise of this nation and are willing to work purposefully to fulfill it.

A thriving democracy takes all of us. We cannot allow the anti-democratic sentiment that fueled yesterday’s events — so much of it grounded in hate and tribalism — to gain strength. We must work toward common ground characterized by equity, decency and truth.

Bringing people together is what the Y does best. We will continue to do our part to help people from all walks of life find common ground and promote civil society. And we will continue to invest in young changemakers and look to them for leadership. One of the great joys of my job is spending time with young people from across the country who participate in the Y’s Youth and Government program, which teaches them to value good-spirited debate, servant leadership and the power of public policy to improve lives. The program’s motto — “Democracy must be learned by each generation” — is particularly relevant right now. Young people are the primary source of my hope for the future, and time spent with our Youth and Government participants always confirms the wisdom of my optimism.

Today is a new day. The Y looks forward to partnering with the new Administration and the new Congress in the weeks and months ahead to advance funding and policies that support our work to strengthen communities. Because at its best, our democracy is capable of this and much more.