COLORADO SPRINGS – One year has past since the violent attack on the U.S Capitol that attempted to subvert the certification of the 2020 presidential election and in the time since, over 700 people have been charged with crimes related to the events of January 6, 2021.
The day marks the first attempted citizen takeover of the United States’ seat of power.
“You have to see it as a dark day in America,” said Joshua Dunn, Ph.D. “Anytime you see people trying to disrupt the operations of Congress, particularly to try and frustrate the outcome of an election, it’s a sign that things aren’t as healthy in our democracy.”
Dunn is a political science professor at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs and says how that day is labeled largely depends on the motivations of the people involved.
“I think there is a range of people who did want an actual insurrection to people who wanted to show Congress that they were really upset and angry,” Dunn said.
U.S Representatives and Senators were swept out of their respective chambers as rioters, some broke in through glass doors and others who were seen let in by Capitol police, made there way towards the halls of the most known representative institutions in the World.
“I never thought in a million years that I would be in a position as a member of Congress in 2021 in the house chamber certifying a just, rightful election that we would come under assault.” said Rep. Jason Crow, a Democrat representing a district mostly made up of Aurora, Colo.
Crow, a veteran Army Ranger, recalled going into “combat mode” during the attack and helped clear other congresspeople from the House chamber.
Crow, during press availability Wednesday, reflected on the other military veterans who were apart of the attack in the halls of democracy.
“How did we get here as a country?” Crow wonders. “It illustrates to me the level of division and vitriol coursing through our nation and out country and how divided and tribal we have become.”
For Dunn, he recalls other dark moments in the nation’s history in looking back at how January 6 will look in the American history books of the future.
He points to the Civil War, hundreds of radical political bombings in the 1970s and other wartime eras that the nation has made it through as sign of hope that the tensions currently felt will dissipate.
“We’ve confronted circumstances that appear far more dire than what we’re confronting now and I think you want to recognize that. There are dangers and difficulties we are facing but you don’t want to overstate them,” Dunn said.
Both agree that political division is at the root of the attack on the Capitol and how the day has been talked about in the year since.
Dunn says the conversations and conspiracies that begin online are playing into real life confrontation.
Colorado Attorney Phil Weiser, a Democrat, says the unfettered and unregulated internet platforms are fueling the rage that showed on January 6.
“What we have seen and the internet has enabled, is people being radicalized.” Weiser said, “demonizing others with a level of propensity towards violence than we’ve seen. We see rising hate right now, we see rising violence right now.”
After days of attempts, none of Colorado’s Republican representatives to Washington D.C. responded to request for comment.
Crow remembers in the evening of January 6, after the election was certified, his colleagues from the other party expressing their desire to move forward and lower the temperature of the nation’s political discourse, hoping the fever had broken.
The reality one year later, he sees, has become more inflamed.
“Ms. Boebert remains a substantial problem in my view. It’s different for her because her rhetoric is hateful and poses such a direct danger to my constituents, people that I represent: Immigrants, refugees, the Muslim community and those who are marginalized and disenfranchised in so many ways.”
Crow took some steps to reinvigorate a sense of community in American Life. The first, he calls the “Democracy in Action Tool Kit”.
He says it will aim to “demystify” and show people the processes that safeguard and ensure accuracy in American elections as well as inspire people to get out of their homes, away from their keyboards and into their communities to build relationships. Crow also intends it to be a way for people to advocate for causes they believe in.
“To engage and to force respectful, kind discussion and to show that our democracy will be reinvigorated, not in Washington D.C. but, on Main streets, in diners, and neighborhood barbecues around the nation,” Crow said.
Crow also introduced a resolution to recognize January 6 as Democracy day to ensure congress’s commitment to a peaceful transition of power.
“This new type of patriotism looks different from the patriotism of old. It’s rooted in honesty and honestly of the failings of our past and the promises that have been unfulfilled, but the promise of pursuit of perfection,” he said.