Political intimidation seen in Lansing repeats itself in Washington DC
State lawmakers, who themselves have experienced armed protesters in their workplace, spoke out Thursday morning about the horrific events that took place Wednesday in the US capitol. After failing to overturn the presidential by every legal means, Donald Trump directed his followers, who he invited to Washington DC, to descend on the ceremony in which Congress would make Joe Biden’s election official.
The ransacking of the US capitol reminded Rep. Padma Kuppa (D-41 Troy, Clawson) of the April 30 incident involving armed protesters in the Michigan capitol galleries. That raid was fomented by questioning science related to the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. By comparison, Kuppa says “(Wednesday’s) attack on our nation’s capitol in large part stems from extremists refusing to believe reality and truth. The truth matters. Our elections are free, fair and follow laws that are in place.”
US Rep. Debbie Dingell (D 13-MI), still weary after a sleepless night, said she couldn’t believe that our democracy was under attack even after hearing gunshots in the halls of the capitol. “There were people who wanted to keep us from doing our job. They did not want us to certify this election,” said Rep. Dingell. “People died yesterday. That’s not who we are as Americans.” Rep. Dingell had a sense that the events of the day would leave a crack in the foundation of our democracy. “We all need to make sure that it’s a hairline fracture and we heal it. Don’t let it continue to do damage to this country that we love.”
Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-23 Brownstown) represents a district that voted for Trump in 2016 and again in 2020, but he holds Republican representatives who won’t level with their constituents in part to blame. “There are 15 in the Michigan state house... and 11 state senators who signed onto a letter yesterday supporting what happened in Washington DC,” said Camilleri. “We are working with people who don’t believe in the very system of government that they are participating in and I believe that we should hold each and every one of them accountable.” He cites Rep. Matt Maddock (R-44 Milford) who, with his wife, Meshawn, organized busloads of Michiganders to attend the rally at which he spoke before the mob attacked the capitol.
“This is the danger of looking at fellow countrymen like they’re enemies; This is the danger of putting party over people; This is the danger of pushing the envelope of what is considered unacceptable behavior,” said Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-4 Hamtramck). “This should be a wake up call to everyone.” He had not yet been sworn in when gunmen roamed the gallery of the state house last year, but he was likewise threatened for pointing out the racism of delegitimizing the votes of Black people in a Wayne County board of canvassers meeting. “We have to make sure we are addressing this moment that has culminated over the last several months that led to this sedition and insurrection,” said Aiyash. “...by deciding to move on without addressing it, you are just putting the flame out a little bit but the embers will still exist. And someone more organized, someone more disciplined and someone more vicious will come back and re-spark that ember and bring that flame back,” he warned.
“We have receipts about what we have been doing on a daily basis to fight against this stuff,” said Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-68 Lansing). Last year, she introduced a resolution (HR-180) that would call on congress to designate domestic terrorism as a federal crime but the Republican led house has failed to transmit the resolution to congress. In May, Anthony called for banning firearms in the Michigan capitol. While the capitol commission has addressed a variety of other issues, they have yet to take up the one that could prevent the violence that we’ve now seen in DC. “This is the time for us to think about taking sides,” said Rep. Anthony. “Are we going to align with political parties, who often get it wrong, who by design are there to play politics… or are we going to do our jobs as elected officials and community leaders.”
“Seeing people carrying crosses, Christians flags and placards reading “Jesus 2020” yesterday made me sick to my stomach and broke my heart,” said Rev. Paul Perez. He reminded the faithful that yesterday was the day of Epiphany, the final day of the Christmas season. The Magi, the 3 wise men, were asked by King Herrod to report back when they found the newborn king so that he could use violence to hold onto power. Rev. Perez urged everyone to follow the example of the Magi. “Turn you back on Herrod. Find another way home.”