The PRBA strongly denounces the attack on the US Capitol as anti-American and anti-democratic. The vision of confederate flags, armed insurgents and crouching legislators will forever be a stain in this country’s history. The insurrection was a cowardly attempt to thwart our presidential electoral process and the voice of the people, who elected Biden as our next president. Fortunately, these Trump-fueled domestic terrorists were unsuccessful, but as events unfolded on January 6, it was evident to the world that the US has another problem besides preserving our democracy; America needs to address the racist, double-standard that was also clearly on display that day. One need only compare the response from authorities to the mob that attacked the Capitol, and the military response to the Black Lives Matters protests this summer, to see the blaring disparity. This was not the first time the Capitol was attacked. On March 1, 1954, four members of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party, led by Lolita Lebrón, made it into the House of Representatives. From the visitor's gallery, Lebrón stood up and shouted, “Viva Puerto Rico Libre!” ("Long live a free Puerto Rico!") and unfurled a Puerto Rican flag. Five congressmen were shot and survived their wounds. Lolita Lebrón, Irvin Flores, Rafael Cancel Miranda and Oscar Collazo were immediately arrested by the US Capitol Police, and later found guilty of attempted murder. They would serve 25 years in prison before their 50 year sentences were commuted by President Carter in 1979.
The US Constitution and our democracy will survive the attempted coup this past week-- Joe Biden will be sworn in as president on January 20. But America’s bigger problem of systematic racism will linger. The PRBA, and millions of people of color in this country, demand that our leaders, in all branches of government, but particularly in the judicial branch, hold the perpetrators of this week’s attack fully accountable. Lolita Lebrón served 25 years in prison for her role in wounding 5 congressmen. Black Lives Matters protesters from this summer all over the country are still facing pending charges. What will be the fate of the privileged insurgents who attacked the Capitol this week, where 5 people died?