JBL! statement on events at US Capitol

To the editor:

John Brown Lives! is deeply troubled by the events that unfolded at the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 and strongly condemns the display of White supremacy and racist violence we witnessed in Washington, D.C., in an attempt to undermine our democratic system.

The stark severity of the moment calls on us to make a public statement. Because today we have a choice, how we choose to speak about this moment can and must shape what happens next. The attack on the Capitol, although shocking, has been in the making for decades. Those that participated in the violence at the Capitol gave a clear example, not only of White supremacy but White privilege as well, demonstrating for all to see the different standards applied to different people in our country. We compare the violent treatment faced by Black Lives Matter demonstrations at the Capitol in the summer with the lack of the initial police effort to protect those inside the building on Wednesday. The appalling display of aggression and entitlement by a White, mostly male crowd manifests their expectation of safety and impunity even when they use intimidation and act violently.

We also condemn those so-called leaders, from President Trump to our elected representative Elise Stefanik, who spread lies and untruths about the recent election that incited their supporters to rampage the Capitol. These insurgents, fueled by extremist rhetoric and conspiracy theories, pretended to speak for us — but they do not! We reject outright their claims of election fraud and their attempts to overturn the results of a free and fair election.

We call for the immediate resignation of Rep. Stefanik and for Donald Trump to be stripped of the power of the presidency before he does more harm.

In the aftermath of this event, many people stand in shock or exclaim, “This is not who we are.” As an organization dedicated to racial justice and human rights, we must remind our fellow citizens of this nation’s history of colonization, slavery and Jim Crow. We must have an honest reckoning with the truth of our history, with what the late James O. Horton described as “slavery’s diversity, longevity, complexity and centrality” to the American story. We must acknowledge how our structures and systems have been built to favor, protect and raise up White men — and women — while Black and Brown bodies still suffer and die in the struggle for dignity and equality.

We will continue the vital public discourse around human rights, freedom and climate justice that JBL! is known for here in the North Country. Each of us must stay committed to the work and not shy away from calling out White supremacy in all its forms, whether it is at the state capital, in our Adirondack communities or even our own homes. The moral arc of our times must continue to bend toward justice, freedom and equality for all.


Martha Swan, executive director

Jeff Jones, board president

Melanie Reding, development director

John Brown Lives!



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