A year after Jan. 6 riot, Michigan leaders warn of threats to democracy

Capitol riots
Posted at 9:46 PM, Jan 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-06 22:23:43-05

(WXMI) — The harrowing images, videos and detailed reports of what happened during the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol are burned into our collective memories. An angry pro-Trump mob, in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election, busted through barriers using flags as weapons, and forced their way into the halls of American democracy.

In total, five people, including one Capitol police officer, died because of what happened that day. Nearly 150 police officers were injured — two died by suicide after the riot.

In the end, the mob didn't achieve what they set out to do. That night, Congress reconvened to count electoral votes and confirm then President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Now a year later, Michigan officials are warning that the threat to democracy hasn’t gone away.

“The threat, not only is it continuing, but I think it's increased exponentially since then,” Attorney General Dana Nessel (D–Michigan) said in an interview with FOX 17.

RELATED: Michigan political scientists reflect on significance of Jan. 6 insurrection

While some continue to paper over the facts of what happened, Nessel says it is important people take into account the reality.

“I think it's essential that we do so and that we not look back at this as just sort of an errant set of circumstances that occurred, that we can look the other way and pretend it never happened, or decide it wasn't a big deal. It was a very, very big deal and it needs to be treated incredibly seriously from the perspective of criminal prosecutions,” Nessel said.

“People should know that when you have something underway, like the counting of our electoral votes, and our ministerial functions of government that allow us to remain a democracy, we have to do anything and everything we possibly can to support our democratic system of elections. Because once we've lost that, we've lost everything,” she added.

"Insurrectionists are running for office pushing the Big Lie. We must call out this continued attack and confront it with truth," tweeted U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D–Flint).

RELATED: ’It was a victory to ban open carry in the capitol’: Insurrection in DC led to changes in Lansing

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday, Sen. Gary Peters (D–Michigan) says threats of violence have only continued to grow since Jan. 6. “We must do more to tackle the threat of domestic and violent extremism, especially as more and more people embrace conspiracy theories and outright lies, and report that they believe violence can be justified to get their desired political outcomes,” Peters said.

“Once relegated to the fringes of our society, these kinds of views are now creeping further into the mainstream, and that presents a grave threat to the future of our democracy,” Peters added.

I still have pretty vivid memories of just what it was like, to be sitting in the House and getting alerts on the phone of what was going on. And then obviously, just kind of the panic that ensued, when it was clear we had to evacuate,” recalls U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R–Grand Rapids), who was inside the Capitol when the rioters laid siege.

Meijer was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach former President Donald Trump a week after the riots.

“[I remember] just being incredibly angry that you had folks who wanted to disrupt the process, disrupt the lawful proceedings of Congress, and frankly, this broader trend of saying that our institutions are illegitimate. And so instead of working within them to fix and reform instead of working within our constitutional system, you know, looking for ways to attack it from the outside, and I think that is a deeply troubling trend,” Meijer added, while also saying both sides have tried to "weaken" institutions.

“I think you saw it most vividly on January 6, but I think folks on both sides of the aisle are looking for opportunities to weaken our institutions to attack them, rather than recognizing the faults that are there and working to fix them,” he explained.

More than 700 people have been charged for their alleged role in the Capitol riots, including a dozen from Michigan. The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation is ongoing.

READ MORE: Where the United States stands one year after Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection

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