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On January 6, 2021, a joint session of the U.S. Congress met to certify the electoral votes from the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Some members of the House and Senate challenged the votes from several states. As the two chambers convened separately to consider the first of these challenges, rioters - encouraged by then-President Donald J. Trump who repeatedly and erroneously claimed that there was widespread election fraud - stormed the U.S. Capitol, overwhelmed police, broke into offices, destroyed property, and threatened the lives of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Vice President Mike Pence (R-Indiana).

JMU Civic Democracy Fellows Leia Surovell (Anthropology), Sarah Akers (Justice Studies), Ryan Ritter (History & International Affairs), Jacquelyn Dobrin (Communications from Ball State University) and JMU Civic Associate Director Dr. Carah Ong Whaley have compiled a comprehensive timeline leading up to and after the January 6, 2021 insurrection that includes primary and secondary sources in order to better understand the consequences and the threats posed to American democracy. We will continue to update this page with resources and welcome contributions sent to civic@jmu.edu.

Timeline of the January 6, 2021 Insurrection

Discussion Questions

What are the key factors that led to the January 6, 2021 insurrection? 

How does the First Amendment apply to the January 6, 2021 insurrection? 

What factors have influenced the responses by Congress to the January 6, 2021 insurrection? 

Who should be held accountable for the assault on American democracy that took place leading up to and on January 6, 2021? 

What should accountability and justice for the January 6, 2021 insurrection look like? 

What role does election administration play in ensuring legitimacy of election outcomes? 

How do unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud undermine the legitimacy of election administration and trust in elections? 

Why is public opinion regarding election outcomes so polarized?

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U.S. Capitol Police Officer Harry A. Dunn Speaks Out

In this episode of Democracy Matters, we talk with Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, JMU Health Sciences ‘05, about his experiences fighting for democracy on January 6, 2021. “These people were minutes, seconds, feet away from hanging the Vice President. Just sit with that,” says Officer Dunn. He is speaking out for justice and accountability because, “People are trying to rewrite history right in front of us...Terrorism is what they did that day. In my mind, they’re coming back. We have to hold them accountable.”

CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta Reflects on January 6, 2021

CNN Correspondent Jim Acosta, a JMU alum, shares his initial reactions as he watched the January 6, 2021 violent attacks and insurrection unfold and discusses the implications of the January 6, 2021 violent attacks and the ongoing insurrection for democracy in America.

Walter Shaub Reflects on January 6, 2021

Walter Shaub, a JMU History alum who leads the Ethics and Accountability Initiative at the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), shares his reactions to the January 6 Insurrection and discusses the ongoing insurrection for democracy in America.

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