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Vigils mark anniversary of January 6th attack

 Attendees held candles at a vigil Thursday night in Albany
Lucas Willard
Attendees held candles at a vigil Thursday night in Albany

Dozens demonstrated outside the capitol in Albany Thursday night on the one-year anniversary of the attempted insurrection in Washington, D.C.

Holding candles, the crowd marked one year since the January 6th attack with a call to action.

The crowd that braved sub-freezing temperatures spent less time reliving the events of the attempted coup, when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the capitol to halt the certification of the 2020 election, and instead focused on the future.

As part of a national day of action, organizers asked attendees to get involved in the democratic process and to call on elected officials to advance voting rights legislation.

Debora Brown-Johnson is President of the Albany NAACP:

“Congress must pact the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. The Freedom to Vote Act...”

Earlier in the day, Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the Senate floor and made television appearances condemning the events of January 6th.

In Albany, a staff member read Schumer’s remarks at the rally.

“Unless we confront the Big Lie, unless all of us do our part to fortify and strengthen our democracy, the political violence of January 6th risks becoming not an aberration but, God forbid, the norm.”

Bess Zafran, a volunteer organizer with Citizen Action of New York, urged the crowd to pressure Schumer.

“Our senator, his representative here tonight…he’s the speaker of the majority party! We need to be louder. We need to demand that the Freedom to Vote Act is passed. We need that,” said Zafran.

Supported by the national League of Women Voters, Gail Volk of the League of Women Voters of Albany County said more than 300 similar vigils were being held around the country Thursday.

“I think we need to take a step forward and really become educated in what our government is doing and participate. Show up.”

A sister event was held at the same time in Glens Falls near the district office of Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik. Many Republicans, including Stefanik, have condemned the violence at the capitol on January 6th, but have attempted to place the blame on Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Stefanik today stands by her vote that day challenging the 2020 election results.

As the House Select Committee continues to investigate the events surrounding the insurrection, Stefanik released a statement Wednesday that reads in part:

“The fact is that Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility as Speaker of the House for leaving the Capitol so vulnerable despite multiple warnings and requests, and now she is responsible for the cover-up of that fact.”

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.