CONCORD — Community members, elected officials, and activists gathered in front of a church at the center of town Saturday to mark the two-year anniversary of the riot at the US Capitol and called on others to stand up and denounce far-right extremism at all levels of government.
The afternoon rally was hosted by a local group of progressive activists. Leaders with the group said the events of Jan. 6, 2021, where a mob stormed the Capitol during a joint meeting of Congress to certify the 2020 election results, should never be forgotten.
Deb Paul recalled watching on television as the mob broke through windows and filled the halls of the Capitol.
“The pit in my stomach grew and I was initially incredulous and then horrified as I watched the Trump mob breaking into the capitol, destroying anything that prevented their entry, including attacking the police,” said Paul, the chairperson of Indivisible MA, from the front steps of the First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church, where about 100 people gathered for the event.
A House committee probed the insurrection and circumstances surrounding it for more than a year and released a final report in November, along with a recommendation that former president Donald Trump face criminal charges.
The Jan. 6 committee’s report, Paul said, has “helped educate more Americans to understand how truly fragile our Democracy really is and that it takes each of us to do our part every day to preserve it.”
The event was scheduled to feature US Representative Katherine Clark as its top speaker but the congresswoman could not attend following a chaotic week on Capitol Hill that featured 15 rounds of voting before Republican Kevin McCarthy was elected speaker of the House.
The delay was caused by a faction of conservative Republicans and hard-line supporters of Trump who refused to support McCarthy’s campaign for speaker.
“Their inability and lack of interest in real governing is on full display as they’re increasingly consumed by extremist views, conspiracy theories, lies, and their desire for power at all costs,” Paul said.
Other local officials stepped up in Clark’s place Saturday to rally the crowd and tout the influence that the Democrat from Revere will hold as Democratic whip after she was elected to that role in November.
“Talk about Massachusetts catching a lucky break and seeing one of its truly great legislators on the cusp of assuming national power,” State Senator Mike Barrett said, drawing cheers from the crowd. “Her performance over the last several weeks has been heroic.”
Kelsey Perkins, a district director for Clark’s office, attended the rally in the congresswoman’s stead and read a statement on her behalf.
“On January 6, 2021, a violent mob fueled by hate and a tyrannical President stormed the Capitol and attacked our democracy. Two years later, we’ve managed to repair our hallowed grounds, but the threat posed to democracy remains,” Perkins said, reading from the statement.
Concord Indivisible and Indivisible MA are local branches of the national Indivisible organization, a collection of progressive activist groups that aims to “elect progressive leaders, rebuild our democracy, and defeat the Trump agenda,” according to its website.
Jennifer Hurley-Wales, a steering committee member with Concord Indivisible, said a constant goal of the organization is to increase involvement by raising awareness through events such as the Jan. 6 rally in Concord.
“We are in a time where we need to fight MAGA extremism, we need to protect one another, and we need to protect our rights and stand strong against the constant assault of [our] democratic government,” she said in an interview after the rally.