Philly state lawmaker wants Pa. to recognize Jan. 6 as Democracy Observance Day

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta proposed the legislation as colleagues condemned Capitol attack, House speaker controversy
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Photo credit Brent Stirton/Getty Images

UPDATED: 1/7/23, 1:04 p.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two years after insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol while Congress members met to certify the electoral results for president, and as House members in the same chamber repeatedly failed over several days to vote on a speaker, a Pennsylvania state lawmaker pushed for Jan. 6 to be deemed as Democracy Observance Day.

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia, called Jan. 6, 2021 a shameful day in our history, and believes similar events could happen again if action is not taken.

“If we don’t remember and learn from it, we are doomed to repeat it,” Kenyatta said, which is why he is introducing a bill for the day to be marked as Democracy Observance Day.

This is not the first time Kenyatta has pushed for the legislation, which he outlined in his campaign run for Senate in 2022.

In addition to the bill, alongside state Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadelphia, he’s also pushing for legislation that would formally condemn the insurrection.

“Without facing these truths head on, we cannot move past the events of Jan. 6 – both its origins and aftermath,” said Rabb.

At least nine people who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, died during or after the rioting, including five law enforcement officers.

“A strong condemnation” of both the Jan. 6 insurrection and the current House speaker controversy

While Kenyatta set the effort in motion to officially recognize the day across Pennsylvania, many of his general assembly colleagues gathered at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia to mark the insurrection.

“2:11 p.m. on Jan. 6, is the time in which the Capitol was breached. So I asked you all now to join me in a moment of silence,” said state Sen. Art Haywood, D-Philadelphia, at that time Friday afternoon.

State Rep. Mary Isaacson, D-Philadelphia, described that day as a sad one in America’s history.

“Jan. 6 marked the deadliest attack on the U.S. Capitol in two centuries and the deadliest attack on the capital of our nation in 200 years,” Isaacson said.

State Sen. Nikil Saval, D-Philadelphia, added a rebuke of not only the attack, but what he said are efforts by politicians to obscure the reason for it.

“On the second anniversary of this insurrection, we stand together to remember and commemorate and also to deliver a strong condemnation of the outdated, baseless, desperate and failed attempts to divide us and obfuscate what was an authoritarian power grab,” said Saval.

He described how nearly 900 people have since been prosecuted for their roles in the deadly insurrection as foot soldiers, but not the people who he believes planned the attack.

“The architects of the effort to collapse our work for democracy — and they have been named in committee reports in investigations — to this day have not been held accountable for their harms,” said Saval.

Isaacson added that it’s not lost on her how exactly two years later, political disarray in Congress prevented lawmakers from getting to work for several days before finally electing a House speaker early Saturday morning.

“The U.S. House of Representatives has been consumed by this chaos over the last several days with a right-wing faction of the GOP that has paralyzed the process to select a speaker,” said Isaacson, who called the current fight over the House speakership another attack on democracy.

“Those that are holding the speakership hostage for the third person in line to our presidency,” she added, “are the same people who were fighting against the certification of the election of the President of the United States.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Brent Stirton/Getty Images