On Anniversary of Capitol Insurrection, Democracy Remains at Risk

Washington, D.C. – On the anniversary of the insurrection at the United States Capitol, Human Rights First calls for accountability for those responsible for that attack, pursuit of a deeper understanding of the reach of antidemocratic far-right extremism in America today, and concerted government and civil action to safeguard democracy.

“The insurrection at our Capitol on January 6, 2021, was an assault on our democracy, but it was not the high water mark of antidemocratic extremism in the United States.  Since that event, extremists have worked to institutionalize election denial at every level of government,” said Michael Breen, President and CEO of Human Rights First. “Across our country today, antidemocratic far-right extremism is being mainstreamed into political discourse and discussion. We must understand and address this extremism as it directly threatens our communities and undercuts our system of government.”

Breen appeared in the feature documentary Against All Enemies, which chronicles the impact of veterans in antidemocratic extremist movements on January 6 and beyond. It debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in June.

In November, Human Rights First released Mapping the Movement: Election Denialists Recruit Veterans and Threaten 2024 Election. The report tracks election deniers’ efforts to infiltrate local democratic infrastructure since 2020, and details the movement’s tactics, including recruiting U.S. military veterans. The report outlines how pro-democracy advocates can challenge the extremist movement by, among other things, passing election-protection legislation and challenging voter suppression efforts.

During debate over the FY 2024 National Defense Authorization Act, Human Rights First  led over 35 veterans’ and civil and human rights organizations in urging Congress to reject extremist attacks on diversity and inclusion in the military. This call followed a letter to the Department of Defense calling for continued attention to extremism impacting the military and veteran communities.

Human Rights First also investigates the mainstreaming of extremism in the United States. Far-Right Extremists Exploit Israel-Hamas War to Mainstream Bigotry in the U.S. was released in December 2023.  A Proxy War: Attacks on Diversity in the Military Target American Civil Rights was published in August. Fact sheets on the mainstreaming of antisemitism, anti-trans extremism, misogyny, and xenophobia were released earlier in the year. In 2022, Human Rights First published, “Digital Soldiers:” QAnon Extremists Exploit U.S. Military, Threaten Democracy.

In August of 2023, Human Rights First joined law firm Foley Hoag in filing a civil case against the extremist group Patriot Front, its leaders, and members for their attack on an unarmed Black man in Boston. The attack is an example of the violence far-right extremist groups routinely perpetrate to intimidate minority groups and further their racist ideology.


Published on January 5, 2024


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