LOS ANGELES – One year ago today, a violent group of supporters of Donald J. Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in an unprecedented attempt to undermine this nation’s democracy by preventing the lawful certification of a presidential election. The violence carried out that day left at least five dead, and has led to continued attacks on voting rights across the U.S. by those who engage in fraudulent conspiracy theories.

Please attribute the following statement on the one-year anniversary to Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF (Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund):

“Many have spent today thinking about, talking about, and in other ways remembering the astounding and horrific events of one year ago – an unprecedented attempt to overturn the clear and indisputable results of a presidential election, with violent law-breaking incited and encouraged by a sitting president, the still-embittered loser of that election.  These actions of remembrance are completely appropriate because we as a nation should never forget this attempt to end our United States democracy, abetted and endorsed by multiple high-level officials, including some who inexplicably remain in office.

“It is also true, as many have noted, that subsequent attempts to legislate greater obstacles to electoral participation, especially by poor and minority voters — justified publicly by reference to the chimeric demon of widespread voter fraud – can only properly be viewed as extensions of the unlawful insurrection of January 6, 2021.  Recognizing this demands action by the paralyzed United States Senate to move forward and enact critical voting rights protections, including the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

“Equally true is that remembrance of one year ago should also catalyze concern and action to preserve our longstanding two-party democratic system by ensuring that one party does not remain in thrall to an egomaniacal and racist demagogue who sought to seize dictatorial, anti-democratic power.  This ongoing issue remains of critical and abiding import.

“Yet, we must also recognize and discuss as a nation the clear anti-Latino origins of last year’s insurrection.  We must openly acknowledge that too many of the participants in, supporters of, and apologists for the January 6 violence are motivated by demographic fear – irrational concerns about the population change being driven primarily by the Latino community, which now constitutes almost one-fifth of the nation’s population and an even greater proportion of its youth.  This demographic fear is exploited and promoted by irresponsible leaders despite the fact that fear of the Latino community is as unsupported as any other racist theory.

“It is unfortunate that our nation’s more responsible leaders have not openly discussed this anti-Latino demographic fear and worked to counter it.  This failure leaves a vacuum for irresponsible demagogues to fill, as Donald Trump did beginning with the launch of his presidential campaign in June 2015.  Our nation is similarly harmed when we continue to tolerate extreme underrepresentation of the Latino community in leadership of government, including the judiciary; of media, including political punditry; of business, including board membership.

“Like every social problem, irrational and anti-Latino demographic fear will not go away if responsible leaders ignore it, refuse to talk about it, or, perhaps worst of all, implicitly sanction it by refusing to address – directly and forthrightly — the extreme exclusion faced by the Latino community.

“Our remembrance of the January 6 insurrection must incorporate a complete diagnosis and treatment.  If not, we risk subsequent waves of the dangerous, anti-democratic infection and its threat to our national democracy.”