The Shock of Last Wednesday
A few hours after I hit “send” on my message to you last week, the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol began. The optimism I felt that morning, just hours after the Georgia Senate runoffs, was quickly overshadowed by shock, as the women in Congress I had praised in my message were seconds away from a potential hostage or mass-casualty event.
I am outraged by what we’re learning about law enforcement’s failures last week, including this story about an FBI report warning of “war” at the Capitol that failed to raise new alarms. Like you, I’ve seen the footage of white men carrying Confederate flags, wearing racist and anti-Semitic slogans, desecrating Congressional offices and terrorizing members of Congress and their staffs. Nancy Pelosi described her experience in this recent 60 Minutes interview where she shows Lesley Stahl the aftermath within the Capitol.
When the armed mobs assaulted the Capitol, the police on the scene were outnumbered from the start. But help wouldn’t arrive for hours—in part because the District of Columbia doesn’t have statehood, and the mayor lacks the authority to call in the National Guard without federal permission.
Here’s a good article from the Atlantic about the case for D.C. statehood. Activist Josh Burch put it best when he said the attack was carried out by “people fooled by political leaders that there was fraud in the election, [but] what they were fighting against is mythical fraud. The real fraud is that we call ourselves a democracy yet deny the people of our capital political representation.”
NOW believes that representation matters—in politics, culture and the workplace. The highest levels of our government have long been among the least representative places, but Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are shaking up this tired old status quo with their administrative nominations and leadership picks. In fact, according to a chart from FiveThirthyEight, they are already on course to break the record for the most diverse Cabinet in history. It’s been gratifying to watch Kamala Harris participate in every announcement and decision made public by Joe Biden. She will clearly be a true governing partner.
Representation in the justice system is equally as critical – leaders who have been on the front lines advocating for equality and justice are necessary as we strive to hold people, organizations, and corporations accountable for their actions. This article from the 19th reports on the women chosen for the top three posts below Attorney General, including Kristen Clarke, the president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights to head the civil rights division, and Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights as associate attorney general. They are both longtime allies and feminist champions.
As you read this, we are still dealing with the aftermath of the insurrection at the Capitol, and NOW has joined the call for Donald Trump’s impeachment and his removal from office. Thank you for your support during these difficult few days and weeks.