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Leahy Condemns Violence at U.S. Capitol

Boston College University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., condemned the Wednesday storming of the U.S. Capitol by a group of rioters objecting to the results of the 2020 presidential election in a statement on Thursday.

“The actions of Trump supporters in and around the Capitol on January 6 were shameful, unacceptable, and in conflict with the rule of law and democratic principles that have long animated the United States,” Leahy wrote of the riots that left at least five dead and many others injured.

Leahy also joined in signing a statement by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) that condemned the mob’s attempt to interfere with the certification of Electoral College votes in the Capitol.   

“The motivations and actions of those who have persisted in denigrating our system of laws are a sad and unfortunate result of tactics that have torn the fabric of our nation,” the AJCU statement reads. “The president and his adherents bear responsibility for perpetuating false rumors and unsubstantiated facts regarding the election.”

The incident temporarily stalled the congressional session to certify the Electoral College votes from the presidential election. Members of Congress evacuated as the Capitol went into lockdown. 

Once the building was secured later in the evening, Congress reconvened and certified President-elect Joseph R. Biden’s victory.

“The orderly transition of power is a central tenet of our political system and essential to our democracy,” Leahy wrote. “We need to reaffirm our commitment to the beliefs and values that have guided our democratic process since our nation’s founding.”

At a rally that morning near the White House, President Donald J. Trump reiterated his opposition to the results of the 2020 presidential election and falsely claimed that the election was “stolen” by Democrats. He also urged his supporters to “walk down Pennsylvania Avenue” and give their fellow Republicans “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

The mob proceeded to the Capitol from the rally shortly after 1 p.m. and soon overwhelmed Capitol Police, swarming into the building after breaking through doors and smashing windows.

Five individuals were reported to have died from the incident at the time of publication. One woman was shot by Capitol Police while inside the building and was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital, while another three individuals died from non-firearm-related medical emergencies. One Capitol Police officer died from the riots. 

D.C. and Capitol Police arrested at least 82 people and at least 50 police officers were injured.

The AJCU’s Thursday statement called for Trump to concede his loss to Biden and allow for a peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20. Trump conceded the election in a video released later that day, two months after his defeat, and said that he will now focus on a smooth and orderly transition of power. 

“As leaders of institutions dedicated to the promotion of justice and truth, we commit ourselves to working for understanding and reconciliation in the days ahead,” the AJCU statement reads. “We call for a recommitment to the ideals of fairness, justice, racial equity, and inclusion to which our nation aspires today.”

Featured Image by Éamon Laughlin / Heights Editor

January 7, 2021