Below is a round up of speeches and statements issued by New Jersey politicians regarding the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol Building.
Sen. Bob Menendez
“One year ago today, the world watched in horror as our sacred temple of democracy, the U.S. Capitol building, was besieged by fellow Americans. This was the culmination of a months-long, coordinated campaign by former President Trump to sow deep distrust in the integrity of our elections because he refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election.
“That day, the foundation of our constitutional order was severely eroded. Democracy prevailed when the brave men and women of the Capitol police force, including fallen hero and New Jersey native Brian Sicknick, and DC’s Metropolitan Police Department fought valiantly to protect our elected leaders. Their sacrifice made it possible for us to fulfill our constitutional duty to certify the election results.
“Since then, however, the same American leaders who threatened the survival of the Republic have sought to further undermine our constitution and democratic process. Former President Trump continues to question the results of the 2020 election and he has encouraged his supporters to do the same. In states all across the country, the right to vote, the bedrock of any healthy and functioning democracy, is under attack. We cannot remain silent in the face of such blatant affronts to our multiracial democracy, the integrity of our elections, and the fundamental right to vote.
“Last year’s insurrection must serve as a moment of national reckoning, a clarion call for all Americans to uphold our collective responsibility to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. We must reaffirm our commitment to doing everything necessary to ensure our Republic prevails, stronger and more resilient than ever before. That’s why we must continue to advance our efforts in the Senate to protect our democracy and safeguard the sacred right to vote.”
Sen. Cory Booker
“We saw a violent attack on this Capitol ignited and incited by demagogues who were trying to spread a lie telling people their votes were stolen; by a president who broke with our traditions of a peaceful transfer of power. And [who] told his supporters to come to this building. And on that day, that vicious attack, we saw heroic actions by men and women who stood in the breach to try to protect the 535 members of Congress, their staffs, [and] the people in this body that do so much good to keep this nation’s traditions moving.”
“I will never forget this moment, as long as I live…when I turned on that [television] screen, the very first thing I saw was the Confederate flag…. When I saw that flag it connected [me] to a current of the dark eddies of our nation’s history that have persisted because violent mobs from the beginning of our country have tried to stop our democratic traditions.”
“We make a big mistake if on this day we just talk about what happened here….All across this country right now there are believers in this democracy that have the same fear that my grandparents did. The same fear that my father did. The same fear that Blacks and whites who joined arms to march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge for voting rights did. This is a cancer; it [has] always been here. And we make a tragic mistake just by talking about this day. Because when I survey the United States of America, I am so worried. There has never been a time in my life, where I’ve been more worried about this democracy.”
“I stand here today to tell you, why aren’t we talking about the fact that in states right now, laws are being passed, specifically designed to disenfranchise people.”
“When early voting started in the fall of 2020 in Georgia, some voters had to wait up to 10 hours to vote in six metro areas at polling places where minorities constituted more than 90% of active registered voters. The average wait time in the evening for those black communities was 51 minutes. In [white] communities, the average wait time was six minutes….Is [this] what we mean when we look at our flag and say liberty and justice for all?”
“The John Lewis Voting [Rights Advancement] Act [and] the Freedom to Vote Act will be part of the answer to that question.”
“Democracy is not certain. It is not automatic. Democracy is hard. Democracy takes work. Democracy takes sacrifice.”
Rep. Tom Malinowski
“As many of you know, I was born in a communist country. I came to America as a child and when I grew up, I spent most of my career before coming to Congress as a human rights advocate and as an American diplomat trying to champion to dictatorships around the world the idea of American democracy.
So I have my own particular perspective on what makes America special and on why so many people around the world to this day dream of becoming American. It’s not just words like democracy and liberty. More than that, it is because of an idea that is embedded in the Constitution of the United States – the idea that everyone in America, no matter how powerful, is supposed to play by the same rules and every American election is an opportunity to show that, to show what it means.
Unlike in many other countries, our winners don’t assume absolute power to do whatever they may want. Our losers understand that their rights are preserved. They accept defeat. We’ve all been there and live to fight another day. So on January 6th, a year ago, I was desperate to be in the House gallery. I wanted to be there to see the ceremony that would mark the continuation of this sacred tradition. I was optimistic.
At 11:21am, I pulled out my little Twitter machine and I wrote, ‘Today is a celebration of democracy. The people have voted. The only power we have as Representatives and Senators under the Constitution we swore to defend is to count the ballots. And we will.’
Two hours later, we all know what happened. We lived it together. We saw from the gallery the Speaker being evacuated. We heard the hiss of the gas masks. We heard the voice of the Chaplain praying. Some of us tried to lock those doors – we failed. We didn’t see what we saw in the video. We didn’t see the battle outside, so maybe I wasn’t as afraid as I should have been. But here’s what I was thinking.
I was thinking about moments in my life where I had been in dangerous situations outside the United States. There was a time when I found myself being chased in the middle of the night by riot police in a Middle Eastern city – it’s a long story. I thought about a time when I visited Syria and Libya during their civil wars, and I thought how absolutely absurd it was that here I was standing in the inner sanctum of American democracy in Washington, DC, feeling the same rush of adrenaline, the same sense of danger as in those places. How could it be happening here? I was furious.
And all I could say to everybody as we fled and as we came to that place of safety in the House office building was the moment we got the all clear, we had to go back in there and finish the job of certifying the election. And thank goodness we did.
Ever since, those who want us to move on from January 6th, to try to get away with blaming the rioters alone for the attack, it’s like saying that the hijackers alone were responsible for 9/11.
The real question, is what could have motivated those thousands of otherwise ordinary Americans to commit such a deviant act? Social media created the echo chamber in which the lie spread but the root cause was the lie itself. Today, more Americans believe the election was stolen than a year ago. More Americans believe that violence against their government is justified than a year ago.
On January 6th, 2021, we thwarted the attack on the Capitol. On January 6th, 2022, the attack on our democracy continues. And as we defend that democracy, let us remember there is no constitutional police in America. There is no constitutional jail in America. The rules underpinning our system of government and the peace it preserves have always been based only on our consent. We either agree voluntarily to abide by those rules even when we lose an election, or we lose our country.
I do not want to lose the country that my family chose. I do not want to lose the glorious example that America sets, that our democracy sets for the rest of the world. Those are the stakes. We cannot, we will not fail.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer
“Exactly one year ago this week, I was inside the House Chamber when lawless thugs and insurrectionists breached the United States Capitol, in an attempt to upend our democracy and our 230-year tradition of a peaceful transition of power. The insurrectionists failed miserably. Democracy conquered anarchy. Once again, America was triumphant.
While they smashed windows, broke down doors, and even tore down the American flag, the insurrectionists did not break the great American spirit. Their attempted obstruction was foiled, and our democracy persevered, even stronger.
Now, instead of splitting us asunder, Republicans and Democrats are working in a bipartisan manner investigating the attack, so we can hold those responsible to account.
Now, we must continue to work together to protect our electoral system, the integrity and security of our elections, and the will of the American people.
We must all come together — across party, backgrounds, and any lines that divide us — to ensure an attack like this never happens to our nation again.
To this day, my thoughts continue to be with the brave law enforcement brutally attacked that day and all their loved ones.
While we must not forget the dark days we’ve been through, we must also commit ourselves to unity, civility, and truth, and embrace our calling to a higher purpose and to help strengthen our nation.”
Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.
“Today, we mark the anniversary of one of the most tragic events in American history. For the first time ever, American citizens stormed the Capitol Building to illegally change the result of a free and fair election. The right to vote is sacred and all Americans have the right to have their vote counted. What happened on January 6, 2021 should anger ever American. It should convince every national elected official that we need new laws to protect our elections and our votes. I applaud Representative Bennie Thompson and my colleagues who are investigating the horrible events of that day. My prayers continue to go out to the brave law enforcement officials who tried to save our Capitol Building and protect our elected officials from harm during the attack.”
Gov. Phil Murphy
“The scene that unfolded in our nation’s capital one year ago was one of the darkest in our country’s history.
“This was not a protest, but an act of domestic terrorism bent on overturning a free and fair election, shredding the tenets of our American values, and shattering the bedrock of our democracy.
“The riot shook the sacred principles of our political system that we hold so dear and which have made us an example for the world. Definitely, Congress returned to complete their duty. Democracy won over baseless conspiracies.
“Over the last year, our nation has been tested in many ways and we have shown the true resiliency of the American spirit. But our democracy remains fragile, and forces continue to try to exploit our division. We must continue working together, both Democrats and Republicans, to advance as one nation.
“Tammy and I again offer our condolences to all those who suffered that day, and to the family of United States Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, a New Jersey native who gave his life protecting the Capitol from violent insurrection. Officer Sicknick dedicated his life to protecting the Constitution and, by extension, upholding our democracy, and we thank him for his service to our nation.”
Assembly Speaker Craig J. Coughlin (D-19)
“Democracy is the foundation on which our country stands. One year ago today, a violent mob stormed the United States Capitol in what can only be described as an act of harrowing domestic terror.
“An event fueled by hate and disinformation campaigns; the lives of Congressional members, staffers, officers and the public at-large were put at risk. In an attempt to divide us, a real evil that has been growing was revealed.
“Our foundation, however, cannot be shaken. Democracy does and will prevail. A year later, we reflect on the sacrifice of the many brave Capitol police and individuals, who on that day used their bodies for the protection of their friends, colleagues, and fellow Americans.
“The tragedy remains in the lives that were lost during the events of January 6th and over the course of the weeks and months that followed. We pray for solace for the families, while standing firm in our commitment as a nation to see justice be done.”