By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
Long Island activists marked the third anniversary of the January 6 Insurrection – the first time in US history where a sitting president attempted to overturn an election by sending a violent mob to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power – with declarations to stand up to preserve democracy against those who would install an autocrat, to be engaged in the political process and most of all, vote.
“January 6 was a wake up call how fragile democracy is. We didn’t want the day to go by without showing up in nonviolent support of democracy,” said Rachel Klein of Engage Long Island that organized a Rally to Defend Democracy on the steps of the Nassau County Supreme Court in Mineola.
The headliner was Tom Suozzi, who is running in NY-03’s special election on February 13 to return to Congress where he served for 6 years, filling the vacancy left by the disgraced, expelled fraudster George Santos, and take back the seat from Republicans.
Suozzi, who was in Congress during the January 6th insurrection, described in vivid detail what it was like for him during the attack, the terror of hearing the mob attempting to smash through the doors, hearing shots fired, how he was one of the last to leave the gallery where fellow Congressmembers were instructed to duck under seats and take out gas masks secured there.
Suozzi quoted former California Congressman Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, from a speech he wrote for the United Nations on World Holocaust Day, in 2008, “We must remember that the veneer of civilization is paper thin. We are its guardians, and we can never rest.”
“As President Biden said, you can’t be pro-political violence and pro-democracy – those things don’t go together,” Suozzi said. “You don’t understand how powerful you are, how important being here today is. Keep fighting for what we know is right, so the greatest country in the world, the best hope for the world, is saved.”
State Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-AD 13) recalled how where the Supreme Court stands was once the Plains of Hempstead, and the site where British troops gathered to attack Washington and the rebels for the Battle of Brooklyn.
“History was made here. History is being made – standing up to tyranny. We saw the primitive brutality on January 6 – don’t want to see that again…In democracy, we accept election result, win, lose or draw. We don’t put together armed troops to contest an orderly transfer of power,” Lavine said.
“We have come out in cold weather but our blood is boiling – the idea this could happen again, that an American president would be dictator, tyrant, despot,” Lavine said. “Will we let that happen? Not on our watch. There are days that live in infamy –Sept 11th, Dec 7th. Jan 6 is one. Remember January 6th this November – in orderly fashion, go to polls, stand in line and vote.”
January 6th has inspired political activism, including people running for office.
Community leader Kim Keiserman, president of Port Washington’s Democratic Club, a member of the steering committee of Concerned Citizens of NY-03 that played a key role in getting George Santos expelled from Congress, is now running for State Senate’s 7th district, taking on Republican Jack Martins.
She recalled Election night 2016 when Trump was declared the winner, how she tossed all night, replaying his lies, his attacks on women, immigrants, people of color, Muslims, disabled, press, NATO, allies. “I worried he would escalate attacks, pursue Muslim Ban, appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe, cozying up to Putin, undermine democracy and our standing in world and worried what four years of Trump would do to democracy.” All of which came to pass.
“We are still in tremendous trouble –the stakes in the next election higher than ever. The biggest mistake we can make is falling into despair or believing that nobody else cares as much as we do. We need to organize and get out the vote.”
Dr. Eve Meltzer-Krief also was motivated to run for the Suffolk County Legislature. She recalled joining the Women’s March on Washington seven years ago, less than 24 hours after Trump took the oath of office and gave his “American carnage” speech.
“I understood the danger Trump posed to our democracy. We marched against his fascist tendencies, his attacks of fake news, the seeds of hate he planted – the two most powerful weapons a Fascist has in his arsenal. We know where hate, when politicized, can lead, especially when it comes from the mouth of the most powerful, loudest voice in the world: ‘Mexicans are rapists, Muslim ban, Jews will not replace us, he dehumanized immigrants, made it okay to rip young children from their parent’s arms, fomented hate against Asians, targeted public health officials – Dr. Fauci still needs body guards,” Dr. Krief said.
“During his presidency, every day, we had to think about what construct he shattered, what lie told, who he attacked, how democracy was weakened each day. Our democracy can’t survive another 4 years – Trump is existential threat to country. At this moment, we must stand up, dig deep, defend democracy. The world is an overwhelming place – divided in conflict – in the Mideast. Gun violence epidemic – yet another school shooting. A 12 year old rape victim forced to deliver. The hottest temperature the planet has ever experienced.
“It’s overwhelming – but none of these issues will matter if we don’t have democracy with which to raise our voices. We have to focus, dig deep. It can feel like the weight of world is on our shoulders. But if our democracy fails, democracies around the world will crumble. We are doing this for ourselves, our children’s futures and the world. We have to defend democracy. We can’t let democracy die on our watch,” Dr. Krief said.
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