On the eve of the first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 riots on the United States Capitol, Attorney General Merrick Garland pledged to bring those involved to justice while upholding all American rights and civil liberties.
“Those involved must be held accountable, and there is no higher priority for us at the Department of Justice,” Garland said.
In his remarks, Garland said the Department of Justice had received more than 300,000 individual counseling from individuals regarding the riots, leading to the indictment and arrest of “more than 725” defendants.
Garland says 325 people face felony charges. So far, 20 people have pleaded guilty to crimes and 145 have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.
“The actions we have taken so far will not be the last,” Garland said. “We will follow the facts wherever they lead.”
Garland said those indicted in the riots were only charged for their actions, not their political beliefs.
“Expressing a political belief, even vehemently, is not a crime… but threatening to hurt or kill a person is not protected,” Garland said.
Garland also noted that such threats to public servants, law enforcement officials, election workers and judiciary workers have been on the rise over the past year. He said he feared these threats would “permeate” American life, threatening democracy.
“The responsibility to end violence and the threats of violence… is a responsibility that all of America shares,” Garland said. “We are all Americans. We have to protect each other.”
Garland said the main job of his department is to perpetuate the democratic values that have always existed in America.
“At the Department of Justice, we will do everything in our power to defend the American people and American democracy,” Garland said Wednesday. “We will defend our American democratic institutions from attack. We will protect those who serve the public from violence and threats of violence. We will protect the cornerstone of our democracy. The right of every eligible citizen to vote matters.”
The January 6 riots took place as lawmakers certified the Electoral College’s results for the 2020 presidential election. Former President Donald Trump and other Republican lawmakers called for certification to be deferred over the allegation not evidence of widespread electoral fraud.
When then-Vice President Mike Pence fulfilled his constitutional obligations by presiding over the certification process, Trump supporters – moving through the mall after a speech by the president – stormed into the Capitol. . Some have chanted threats against Pence and Main Democrats like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Five people died as a result of the Capitol riots.