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Hinds: Democracy In Question As Trump-Supporting Extremists Occupy Capitol

State Senator Adam Hinds holds a microphone at an outdoor event.
Becki Joppru Connolly
Massachusetts State Senator Adam Hinds

With the eyes of the world on Washington as extremists supporting President Donald Trump carry out a violent occupation of the U.S. Capitol, Democratic Massachusetts State Senator Adam Hinds says it’s a gut check moment for democracy itself. Before returning to Western Massachusetts, the Shelburne Falls native spent about 10 years with the United Nations handling conflict resolution in Iraq and Syria. WAMC spoke with Hinds Wednesday about the crisis, as well as the disparity in law enforcement responses between this summer’s civil rights protests and the acts of insurrection taking place in the nation’s capital.

HINDS: It's incredibly sad. And let's be clear- I mean, when the leader of the country claims a threat and calls for action, this is what happens. And I'm reminded of the years I've spent overseas, and unfortunately, have watched firsthand as leaders of countries have actively tried to change the results of elections they didn't like. And they do it by trying to undermine election experts and processes, inventing threats and activating supporters to respond. And so that is now the equation that we're looking at in our own country, the formula that we're watching unfold in our own country. And it obviously cannot stand and so it's deeply, deeply concerning about the implications for democracy in our own country.

WAMC: Many are pointing out the difference between the response of law enforcement to Black Lives Matter protesters this summer and insurgents with apparent ease making their way into the Capitol today. What are your thoughts on the disparity in those two responses?

I can't imagine the force and destruction and the violence against protesters had it been a Black Lives Matter protest that had entered the Capitol and destructed, you know, causing destruction to offices and the chambers. It's clearly another example of the inconsistencies in our own system of justice and in our own society. It's scary. And so to allow for this to get this far in the first place, is- It just simply puts it on display for all of us, and it's very hard to see it in any other light.

What does it say about the legitimacy of American democracy?

Look, I mean, our institutions have withheld the results of the election. We've seen attempts since the national election, all the way up to the Supreme Court, questioning elections officials in several states, and it has gotten this far. We were going to watch, we started to watch a political charade in the House and Senate and in a joint session today, and it was still going to survive that as well. To have it lead to violence and an active insurrection- That's another level altogether. But we will survive this. It's, you know, in a way we knew this was going to happen. We knew that this is- You don't have four years of efforts that undermining democracy without this kind of being the finish line. And so it's deeply saddening, and January 20th can't come soon enough.

Here in Massachusetts, Republicans like the MassGOP and Governor Charlie Baker have spoken out against the situation. Some of these groups, like the MassGOP, up until earlier today were strident outspoken supporters of the President. What do you think has to happen here in Massachusetts with supporters of the president given the violence on display from his supporters in the Capitol?

Yeah, the governor has just come out with a statement. It's ironic. I mean, we were just sworn in by a Republican governor here only hours ago for the next general court two-year session, and to have that contrast of, you know, undertaking the oath and standing together to do that together in a bipartisan manner- It feels like it's a world away from what's happening in the nation’s capital. And but, you know, Massachusetts is standing together again to what we're seeing happening in DC right now.

Josh Landes has been WAMC's Berkshire Bureau Chief since February 2018, following stints at WBGO Newark and WFMU East Orange. A passionate advocate for Western Massachusetts, Landes was raised in Pittsfield and attended Hampshire College in Amherst, receiving his bachelor's in Ethnomusicology and Radio Production. His free time is spent with his cat Harry, experimental electronic music, and exploring the woods.
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