“Don’t Dare Call Them Protesters”: Biden Slams Pro-Trump Mob and Urges DOJ Reform

Biden Transition/CNP/Zuma

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

In what may have been his most personal, direct, and poignant speech to date, President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday condemned Wednesday’s violence on Capitol Hill, denounced President Trump for inciting the riot, and reflected on the events in American history that led to this moment.

Biden took a hard-line stance on the pro-Trump throng that smashed the windows of the Capitol Building and ransacked the interior. “Don’t dare call them protesters,” he said. “They were a riotous mob. Insurrectionists. Domestic terrorists. It’s that basic.”

And, he noted, those domestic terrorists wouldn’t have acted without Trump’s leadership. “I wish we could say we couldn’t see it coming,” Biden said. “The past four years, we’ve had a president who’s made his contempt for our democracy, our Constitution, the rule of law clear in everything he has done. He unleashed an all-out assault on our institutions of our democracy from the outset, and yesterday was the culmination of that unrelenting attack.”

One of the most striking moments of the speech came when Biden described the message his college-aged granddaughter sent him: “Pop, this isn’t fair,” alongside a photo of military personnel lining the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during a Black Lives Matter protest this summer.

“No one can tell me that if it had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they wouldn’t have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol,” Biden said, echoing an observation made countless times on social media yesterday. “We all know that’s true, and it is unacceptable.”

Biden further suggested that the Department of Justice has strayed from its original purpose of stamping out the racism that pervaded the country during Reconstruction. The DOJ “was formed in 1870 to enforce the Civil Rights Amendment that grew out of the Civil War,” he said, “to stand up to the Klan, to stand up to racism, to take on domestic terrorism.”

He concluded, “This original spirit must again guide and animate its work.”

Watch the opening of Biden’s address below:

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

payment methods

FACT:

Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate