Environmental Groups Condemn Lawless Capitol Mob


A man hangs from the balcony in the Senate Chamber as a mob breaks into the U.S. Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Wednesday’s pro-Trump mob attack on the U.S. Capitol brought upon a flurry of responses from elected officials. “We now will be part of history, as such a shameful picture of our country was put out to the world, instigated at the highest level,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California wrote in a letter to her colleagues, according to The New York Times.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the rioters “tried to disrupt our democracy.” “They failed,” he added, The New York Times reported. But the senators were not the only ones to respond.

“The violent mob that stormed the United States Capitol today, causing senseless loss of life, was there only because of the reckless and anti-democratic actions of Donald Trump,” Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp wrote in a statement.

“Like the rest of the world, we watched the events at the U.S. Capitol in horror as anti-democratic zealots violently disrupted what should have been a ceremonial start to the peaceful transition of power after a free and fair election,” David Yarnold, president and CEO of the National Audubon Society added.

The Environmental Defense Fund and National Audubon Society were joined by a number of other environmental and conservation groups across the country to condemn President Donald Trump’s incitement of the attack.

“Trump willfully infects our body politic with a seditious poison whose antidemocratic effects will linger for years,” Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, wrote in a press release. He called upon principal officers of the executive branch to “immediately invoke the 25th Amendment to remove a demagogue who is manifestly unfit for office.”

Greenpeace USA’s Executive Director Annie Leonard also called for Trump’s removal.

“Yesterday’s white supremacist, anti-democratic attack on representative government was carefully and intentionally coordinated by Trump,” Leonard wrote. “Those responsible must be held accountable.”

Many environmental groups underscored their statements with shared values for conservation and a healthy planet.

“Everything we stand for, all of the work we do to protect birds and the places they need, is predicated on the rule of law.” Yarnold wrote. “We believe that those who have committed crimes today should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law — and those who enabled them should be held to account.”

Sierra Club’s Executive Director Michael Brune said the two new senators in Georgia will ensure “both chambers of Congress are led by those committed to creating a liveable planet, safe communities, and an inclusive democracy.”

He added, “And now, we must use our power to expel Trump and the Trumpism that is attacking the core values and institutions of our country.”

These statements follow a recent reckoning regarding the role of racism in environmentalism. Over the summer, activists called on environmental groups to recognize their roles “in perpetuating systemic racist policies and practices,” National Geographic reported.

“I need you to understand that our racial inequality crisis is intertwined with our climate crisis. If we don’t work on both, we will succeed at neither,” Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, a marine biologist and policy expert, wrote in The Washington Post.

“How can we expect black Americans to focus on climate when we are so at risk on our streets, in our communities, and even within our own homes?” She asked.

Although the responses made by environmental groups may not alone inspire equity in environmental spaces, they may be a stepping stone for environmental organizations to confront issues they haven’t in the past.

“Let’s call this what it is: a violent attempted coup by white supremacists hell-bent on suppressing the majority of people in America demanding progress and justice,” May Boeve, 350.org’s executive director wrote. “While militarized police attacked Indigenous water protectors at Standing Rock in 2016, and Black and brown protesters during racial justice uprisings of 2020, this is a racist and despicable contrast as right-wing insurrectionists attempt to revive the Civil War during a global pandemic, the day after the officer who shot Jacob Blake walked free.”

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