A YEAR AFTER JANUARY 6 ATTACK ON U.S. CAPITOL, WEST VIRGINIANS DEMAND ACTION TO PREVENT ANOTHER ATTACK ON OUR DEMOCRACY
Virtual Remembrance Vigil on Jan 6th Among More than 175 Events Across the Country
On January 6th, 2022, WV Freedom to Vote Coalition, a coalition of organizations and concerned West Virginians representing veterans, young people, small business owners, faith leaders and current and former elected officials, held a candlelight vigil to say: “In America, the voters decide the outcome of elections.”
January 6, 2022 marked one year since a faction of elected officials incited armed right-wing militants to attack the U.S. Capitol.
Following the attack, and even in the immediate face of such egregious acts of violence, West Virginia Congressional Representatives Alex Mooney and Carol Miller objected to and voted against the certification of the Presidential election results. Mooney and Miller also opposed the creation of an independent commission to investigate the January 6th attack. Additionally, Mooney continued to make irresponsible public statements against the democratic process.
In West Virginia, a month prior to the attack, Secretary of State Mac Warner spoke, chanted and held “Stop the Steal” signs on the State Capitol grounds while continuing to spread the false narrative that the Presidential election was stolen. These events fueled the insurrection and perpetuated the lies about the 2020 election.
During the 2021 legislative session, Warner supported a bill introduced by Republican lawmakers that would have eliminated the most popular days of Early Voting, gutted automatic voter registration and started the process of removing voters from rolls after two years (instead of four) if someone hasn’t voted.
One year later, the same faction is working to restrict the freedom to vote, attacking fair voting districts, and quietly preparing future attempts to sabotage free and fair elections.
To prevent this kind of attack from happening again, advocates are demanding that elected leaders pass urgent legislation including the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. This event is one of more than 175 events that took place across the country, including at the U.S. Capitol.
At this virtual event, speakers from diverse backgrounds shared their perspectives on the events of January 6, 2021 and why it’s critical that our elected leaders take action to prevent future attacks on our democracy and attempts to subvert the will of the voters, protect our freedom to vote and ensure that all Americans have equal access to the ballot ahead of the 2022 elections.
Speakers at this virtual event included:
– Natalie Tennant, former WV Secretary of State;
– Ivin Lee, former Chief of the Dunbar Police Department and retired officer with the Charleston Police;
– Wes Holden, US Army Veteran and former Deputy State Director for U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller;
– Lakiesha Lloyd, US Army Veteran;
– Howard Swint, commercial real estate broker in Charleston and concerned citizen;
– Kristen Olsen, a WV mother and member of the WV Poor Peoples Campaign;
– Zach Shrewsbury, U.S.M.C Veteran;
– Deedra Keys-Switzer, Coordinator for Young West Virginia;
– Councilwoman Becky Cain Ceperley, League of Women Voters National President (1992-1998) and member of Charleston City Council;
– Rev. David Fryson, Founding Vice President of the West Virginia University Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Pastor at First Baptist Church of Kanawha City.
Natalie Tennant, former WV Secretary of State began, “We are here because our nation’s Capitol building was attacked. Americans were killed. We are here to remember, make sure that doesn’t happen again and ask for those who participated in this unthinkable act to be held accountable. Steps are being taken to strengthen our voting rights and the access to the ballot. It’s called the Freedom to Vote Act. It’s Senator Manchin’s signature legislation.”
Wes Holden, U.S. Army Veteran and former Deputy State Director for U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller said, “As a military police officer I solemnly swore an oath that I would support and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Our lawmakers also swore an oath when they took office that they will support and defend the constitution. I’m asking that they fulfill their oath by protecting everyone’s right to vote, and by supporting and passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.”
Charleston City Council President Beckey Ceperley said, “Just in 2021, there were 18 states that passed some sort of legislation to restrict and deny voting rights to eligible citizens. Again, destroying the very concepts that our country is based on: of, by, and for the people, and the consent of the government. Protecting the right to vote in America is actually the bedrock of our society. Without it, we don’t exist as we know this country and as we love this country.”
“These pieces of legislation have what is absolutely necessary for us to continue our freedom and continue our democracy as we know it. What we are seeking is a set of national standards,” Ceperley noted. “National standards that would guarantee access to the election process for all of the eligible voters of America.”
Zach Shrewsbury, U.S.MC Veteran and Organizer with Common Defence on the violent actions at the US Capitol on Jan 6th 2021, “These actions of these individuals do not represent my values as a Veteran. These actions of these individuals do not represent the values instilled in me as a patriot and an American. Those who orchestrated the planning of this must be swiftly brought to justice. And that means our political figureheads too. They are not above the law simply because they hold office. If anything, they should be held more accountable. To this day, some continue to spread lies about a stolen 2020 election.
Shrewsbury continued, “Further, I believe justice would be served by passing the Freedom to Vote Act, the most crucial piece of voting rights anti corruption legislation in the history of the US. Across America, our voices are being silenced and our Democracy is being threatened with dark money, unnecessary voting restrictions, lack of voting access, and partisan gerrymandering in an attempt to sabotage fair elections. This cannot continue. The passage of the Freedom to Vote Act would ensure that it doesn’t.”
Our leaders have a historic opportunity to restore and protect our right to vote by passing the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Together, these bills would help us take a step forward to achieving a democracy that is truly representative and responsive to the American people; however the bills continue to languish in the Senate because of obstruction and archaic Senate loopholes.
The Senate must prioritize protecting our freedom to vote and not allow outdated rules to get in the way of protecting our rights.
History will judge senators on voting rights, not Senate rules. They have a choice to come down on the side of the American people or the side of the anti-voter laws silencing the voices of Americans across the country. Failure to deliver voting rights legislation to the American people will put them on the wrong side of history.
Call on our Senators to do the right thing and pass these vital pieces of legislation crucial to the survival of our democracy.
Senator Manchin – 202-224-3954 (Washington) or 304-342-5855 (Charleston) – Email
Senator Capito – 202-224-6472 (Washington) or 304-347-5372 (Charleston) – Email