Democracy Under Attack

Four perspectives on the January 6th, 2021 Capitol riots


On January 6th, 2021, supporters of then-president Donald Trump marched towards the Capitol in Washington, D.C., in protest of the presidential election results. They were fuelled by Trump’s speech that day and the calls for violence on digital platforms, ready to prevent lawmakers from counting the electoral votes to formalize President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The mob soon turned violent, thousands breached police barriers and hundreds ultimately broke into the Capitol building. Rioters assaulted the law enforcement present on site, vandalized and occupied the building, forcing lawmakers to barricade themselves in and, eventually, to evacuate. As a result of the actions of these violent protesters on that day, five people died and many were injured.

Apart from the visible scars, many invisible wounds remain open. Once more, this event has shown how fragile the state of democracy can be. It also demonstrated the power that digital violence has to influence real life events.

What do the events of January 6th, 2021, tell us about the state of U.S. democracy? In what ways have they affected the fabric of democratic societies?

How can we protect our democracies from extremism and conspiracy ideologies?

Miro Dittrich, Co-Founder and Senior Researcher at CeMAS; Landecker Democracy Fellows, Lulu Mickelson and Maia Ferdman; as well as Dr. Andreas Eberhardt, CEO of the Alfred Landecker Foundation, reflect on the events of January 6th, 2021.

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