A statement from Mitchell Hamline School of Law:
Wednesday’s assault on the U.S. Capitol was an assault on the rule of law. As a law school, we pride ourselves on giving students the tools they’ll need to uphold the rule of law when they leave.
We know the law is not perfect.
Plenty of students enroll here because they see the flaws in the legal system and are here to learn the law so they can change it. Plenty more are drawn to law school by the aspirations of this country’s democratic experiment. And most if not all are inspired by the power that the law can have to help people.
But the insurrection on the Capitol grounds was an attack on all those aspirations. And the trauma it caused will affect each student differently. Dean Niedwiecki noted in an email to students last evening that it will be their duty as lawyers “to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
“I hope you realize your personal role in rebuilding our democracy; finding ways to foster reasoned public discourse; and protecting the rule of law.”
Below is the full text of the email Dean Niedwiecki sent to students Wednesday evening:
“What we have witnessed today has been troubling and scary. As a law school, we teach our students the value of democracy and the rule of law. Today’s violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was meant to undermine our democracy, the U.S. Constitution, and the rule of law. To be clear, what we witnessed was not a peaceful protest but an attempt to subvert the results of a national election through violence. I am truly saddened by this turn of events.
Throughout our history as a country, we have prided ourselves on the peaceful transfer of power, with many other countries looking to us as the model of a modern democracy. Today’s events showed the exact opposite. As law students and future lawyers, we should be repulsed and horrified by this conduct and that which has led to it. But we also must recommit ourselves to that very rule of law. As lawyers, it will be your duty to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. I hope you realize your own personal role in rebuilding our democracy, finding ways to foster reasoned public discourse, and protecting the rule of law.”
Below is a statement from the Mitchell Hamline Black Law Students Association (BLSA):
“Mitchell Hamline’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) would like to acknowledge the outrageous events that took place in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. We join Dean Niedwiecki, the SBA president and vice president, and other organizations in their condemnation of the ‘failed insurrection’ that defaced, vandalized, and desecrated the very foundation of our democracy. This was a clear attack against our democracy, Constitution, and freedom. It was a clear stance against change, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The unlawful behavior once again highlights the urgency of addressing the clear racial bias in our country. But as former President Barack Obama noted, ‘we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.’
This past year alone, we have watched so many of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters abused and killed by law enforcement, the National Guard, and even white supremacists during peaceful protest against police brutality, while sleeping at home, sitting in cars, etc. But on Wednesday, we were forced to watch law enforcement, the National Guard, and federal security show us that they do know how NOT to use deadly force.
As we watched a dangerous mob break into and loot one of our nation’s most symbolic and sacred buildings, we all became infuriated, sad, and confused. We also witnessed the president of the United States condone and incite this unlawful behavior while months before, he condemned Black Lives Matter peaceful protests. We join in calling for immediate impeachment and criminal charges against his tyranny.
Another day of an emotional rollercoaster has passed, we are again required to go back to our ‘normal everyday lives’ and show up. We are not afforded the same opportunities to show our pain, our hurt, our fear, our true feelings. BLSA recognizes this and is tired of the reality that Black people face daily. We live in a world that has created a narrative of Black people as being ‘unhuman.’
As future legal professionals, this is the culture and climate that stands before us. This clear racial bias will continue unless real systemic and institutional change happens – in action and not just theory. As human beings, we are appalled and offended by the continued injustice thrust upon communities of color. The riots and looting that took place Wednesday is a blaring reminder of how only Black and Brown faces are seen as ‘criminals’ and viable ‘threats.’ It is a blaring reminder of how much more progress our country still has to make.
Lastly, President Obama said it best: ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’
BLSA wants to acknowledge you and your feelings. You have a safe space with BLSA leadership in these trying times. We see you.”
Aretha Haynes, Mitchell Hamline School of Law Black Student Association President 2020-2021
DeAijha Oliver, Mitchell Hamline School of Law Black Student Association Vice President 2020-2021
Below is a statement from Out!Law:
“As aspiring attorneys, we know the importance of the rule of law. Wednesday’s violence in Washington, D.C., and in state capitol buildings across the country is the direct result of the reckless and dangerous language of the president of the United States, Donald John Trump. What we have seen on Wednesday is shameful, unacceptable and un-American. This is no longer a political issue surrounding President Trump’s needs and wants. It is an armed insurrection. For the first time in over 200 years, the United States Capitol was laid under siege while our elected officials cowered and surrendered both the Senate and House chambers.
‘It is my opinion that President Trump has abdicated his responsibilities outlined in Article II of the U.S. Constitution,’ said Mitchell Hamline School of Law Out!Law President Molly Nunn. ‘It is time for those privileged enough to study the law to call out today’s insurrection attempt.’
It is the responsibility of Vice President Michael R. Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove President Trump from power. If the vice president is unwilling to carry out this responsibility, then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi must vote on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s articles of impeachment and force the Senate to vote on the removal of Donald John Trump from the office of the presidency.”