Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, a former history teacher, is calling on Americans to make sure the "attempted insurrection" at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday is the end of a chapter in the history books and marks the beginning of when Americans came together.
In a statement Wednesday night, hours after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress was ratifying President-elect Joe Biden's electoral college victory, Walz said he's looking at the events that unfolded as both a governor and a former high school history teacher.
In his classroom, Walz taught his students to see moments like this in "greater historical context," and encouraged people to reflect on what happened Wednesday the same way.
"The last time our nation's capital was under siege was more than 200 years ago when our country was at war with the British," Walz said in a statement.
"Today, it wasn't a foreign nation that seized the Capitol building and attempted an insurrection," Walz added. "It was citizens of our own country, incited by our president and enabled by many political leaders who made a direct assault on our democracy."
Walz went on to criticize President Donald Trump for encouraging what happened at the U.S. Capitol, saying he "fanned the flames of hatred and undermined the sacred American institutions he swore on oath of office to protect."
"And whether it was through the support or silence of other politicians, he didn’t do it alone," Walz said.
With this statement, Walz joins other politicians in criticizing Trump for provoking the siege at the Capitol and Republicans for allowing the president to do so. U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips, a Democrat who represents Minnesota's 3rd Congressional District and is known for working across the aisle, confirmed to MPR News that he yelled to Republicans "This is because of you" on the House floor when members were told to seek shelter as people stormed the building.
“In that moment, I expressed what I think so many in our country are feeling," Phillips told MPR News.
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a DFLer who represents Minnesota's 5th District, announced articles of impeachment against Trump on Wednesday, saying in a statement that Wednesday's mob "is the result of years of collaboration on the part of the Republican Party, who have aided and abetted Trump's criminal attempts to destroy our republic, and the cause of democracy around the world."
Walz stressed that we all must recognize that "democracy cannot be taken for granted."
"We ask our soldiers to endanger their lives to defend our democracy abroad — we all have a duty to protect it here at home," Walz said.
To do that, Walz says "That means toning down our rhetoric, bridging divides, and upholding our Democratic ideals."
“History is being written today. What will our future students read about this moment in their textbooks?" Walz said. "It’s on us to ensure today is the end of a chapter. And marks the beginning of when America stood up and stood together.”
Walz's Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan in a statement Wednesday night echoed Walz's call for Americans to come together and not take democracy for granted.
"The choice in front of us is clear: to give into division or to come together and rebuild our democracy," Flanagan said. "Democracy is always a work in progress. We have to tend to it, to care for it, and never take it for granted. We have to decide to end this rhetoric, this behavior, this violence now.”
Flanagan also condemned the "obstruction of democracy" at the U.S. Capitol by people who threatened and committed violence, calling it "un-American," but said the behavior is contagious.
"In Washington and here in Minnesota, we are witnessing what happens when lies undermining our democracy are spread by people at the highest levels of power; when hateful, racist, and divisive rhetoric that pits Americans against Americans goes unchecked; and when those who mean to do harm to others are not condemned by the president, but praised and encouraged," Flanagan said.
She noted that during the Civil War, the Confederacy never reached the U.S. Capitol building, but on Wednesday, the Confederate flag flew within the halls of Congress.
Flanagan said she is "horrified by hypocrisy" of the mob in Washington who met "little resistance by law enforcement as they stormed the Capitol." She – and many others – compared it to the Black Lives Matter protests at the White House over the summer, which saw a huge law enforcement presence early on.
"We must name this double standard and work to dismantle it if we want to restore faith in our government systems," Flanagan said.