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Boston University administration responds to U.S. Capitol riots

After an unprecedented infiltration of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of President Donald Trump Wednesday, Boston University leadership and faculty have responded with unilateral condemnation of the riots.

In an email to the BU community Thursday, President Robert Brown denounced the attack on the Capitol as “one of the darkest days in the United States since our founding.”

“Yesterday’s violent occupation of our Capitol in Washington by a mob was an attack on our democracy,” Brown wrote. “I condemn it, as should all Americans and people around the world.”

Thousands of rioters gathered in D.C. to protest the results of the 2020 presidential election and Wednesday’s congressional confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden. The group overwhelmed the city’s police force and broke into the Capitol building, leading to 68 arrests.

Rioters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. Boston University faculty members and administrators criticized the insurrection Thursday, describing it as an attack on democracy and calling for a peaceful transfer of power. COURTESY OF MUKUL RANJAN VIA FLICKR

Brown noted the difficulty in understanding the fear congressional members and staff felt as the mob entered the Capitol.

“We should keep these public servants in our thoughts and prayers,” Brown wrote. “We should also contemplate the damage done to the government of our republic.”

A foundational principle of the U.S. government lies in the transition between presidents, Brown wrote, which the current administration has undermined by verging on sedition and spreading conspiracies.

We call on the outgoing administration to fulfill their duties to the Constitution and ensure a peaceful transition of power,” Brown wrote.

Brown concluded his letter by calling for nationwide unity to address continued challenges of the pandemic, political violence and racial inequality.

“We must find a way for all Americans to come together to help heal our divisions,” Brown wrote. “Only then can we recover the optimism that has defined our country and make progress on the great challenges in front of us.”

Professor Ibram X. Kendi, director and founder of BU’s Center for Antiracist Research, condemned the riots in a series of tweets Wednesday.

“White privilege is on display like never before in the U.S. Capitol,” Kendi wrote. “If these people were Black. . .well, we all know what would be happening right now to them.”

In another tweet, Kendi cited male white supremacists who support Trump as “the greatest domestic terrorist threat of our time.”

“Americans are too blinded by their own racist ideas to see these terrorists for who and what they are,” Kendi wrote. “Will today be the day the denial finally ends?”

Dean of the College of Communication, Mariette DiChristina, wrote in a memo sent to COM students Thursday that the events inside the Capitol were a painful reminder of the “power of communication.” 

“When based on facts and truth, it builds understanding and helps society address our shared challenges,” DiChristina wrote. “When laced with mistaken notions and intentional misinformation, it can be so damaging.”

DiChristina added she hopes the events of the past year will never be forgotten — communicators must continue their efforts to understand and improve the way society functions, she wrote.

“We have witnessed the tragic outcomes of information gaps/flaws in the racial injustices and protests, of health misinformation and COVID surges, and the political polarization that has now shaken our democracy,” DiChristina wrote.


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