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1/6, Two Years Later

Reflections on the Capitol Attack and the Struggle for American Democracy


Peyton Ritter


Abstract


On January 6th, 2021, hundreds of American citizens, far-right extremists, and militia members trespassed into the U.S. Capitol building and, in many instances, committed heinous acts of violence to express their disapproval of the 2020 presidential election outcome. Two years later, federal investigations and court records continue to expose the brute reality of that day, shedding new light on the perpetrators’ identities, motives, strategies, and potential accomplices. This deluge of new information, however, has coincided with widespread efforts to downplay the severity of the attack and thereby weaken U.S. policy responses to it–and, more generally, to quiet the alarm bells sounding around the threat of domestic terrorism, particularly from white supremacist, neo-Nazi, and anti-government movements. This article addresses three questions: what really happened on January 6th, why does it still matter, and how can we keep it from happening again?


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