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Many protesters that stormed the United States Capitol on Jan. 6 waved "Trump 2020," "Don't Tread on Me," and American flags. Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett condemned the assault as an attack on American democracy.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett condemned the pro-Trump mob assault on the United States Capitol as an attack on American democracy, according to a statement released by Penn Today Thursday morning. 

Encouraged by President Donald Trump, an insurrectionary, right-wing mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, in an attempt to block the counting of electoral votes and overturn the 2020 presidential election. 

“As citizens, scholars, teachers, and university leaders dedicated to understanding, defending and strengthening American constitutional democracy, we join together with everyone who raises their voices and condemns threatening incitements and assaults on the political freedom of all citizens,” Gutmann and Pritchett wrote. “We also join with our fellow Americans in praising those leaders of all parties who worked through the night to carry on the constitutional mission of recognizing the peaceful transfer of presidential power.”

Credit: Kylie Cooper

Protesters marching up the grounds of the Capitol on Jan. 6.

The mob broke windows, smashed television cameras belonging to The Associated Press, roamed the halls holding Confederate flags, and vandalized Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, among others. Five people died during the insurrection, including a Capitol police officer and a woman shot by the police, according to CNN.

“Nothing is more foundational to American democracy than respect for the peaceful transfer of power,” Gutmann and Pritchett wrote.

Unlike recent University statements, including those made after the police killings of Walter Wallace Jr. and George Floyd, the Jan. 7 statement on the Capitol mob was not emailed to the Penn community. 

While Gutmann denounced the “dangerous propagation of falsehoods and disproven allegations” of a fraudulent election as claimed by Trump and his supporters, the statement did not make any mention of Trump or acknowledge the University’s connection to the 1968 Wharton graduate. 

Trump condoned the violence inflicted by his supporters and continued to push false conspiracies about the election, prompting Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to lock his account Wednesday evening.  

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” Trump tweeted that evening. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

The Daily Pennsylvanian Editorial Board called on the University to condemn Trump’s divisive rhetoric and the insurrection on Wednesday.

"Make no mistake: Donald Trump is to blame," the DP Editorial Board wrote Wednesday evening. "Those witnessing his egregious behavior must speak up — and that includes the administration at his alma mater." 

Presidents of peer institutions similarly issued statements Wednesday evening, including Brown University President Christina Paxson who called the riots “abhorrent” in an email to students. The University of Michigan's president and other college presidents from Nevada, to Colorado, to Florida have also issued statements condemning the violence.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article stated that four people had died during the assault. The article was updated on Jan. 9 to reflect the recently confirmed death of a U.S. Capitol police officer.

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