West Hollywood city officials joined members from Hollywood NOW (the Hollywood Chapter of the National Organization for Women) and Stonewall Democratic Club for a candlelight vigil at Sal Guarriello Veterans’ Memorial to acknowledge the one year anniversary of the January 6th U.S. Capitol riot. The event was lead by Abbe Land, Executive Director of L.A. County Women and Girls Initiative AMD and former Mayor/Councilmember in West Hollywood.
Speakers included West Hollywood Mayor Lauren Meister, council members John D’Amico and John Erickson, Vice President of Hollywood NOW Karen Andros Eyres, Stonewall Democratic Club President Alex Mohajer, and At-Large Board Member Jasmyne Cannick.
The evening began with a moment of silence for the people who lost their lives at the Capitol on January 6th or as a result of the attack.
“We are gathered here tonight to recognize what happened a year ago,” said Abbe Land from the podium. “You can’t wash it away. You can’t think it didn’t happen. Seven people lost their lives. Many people were injured. And life changed for so many.”
Mayor Meister spoke about not taking Democracy for granted. She quoted President Biden’s speech condemning the January 6 Capitol riot. “Those involved in the insurrection held a dagger to the throat of America and American Democracy.”
She pointed out that Democracy is not given but something that we have to work on and fight for. She called the attack on the Capitol an act of treason and for those involved to be held accountable. “Voting is more important than ever,” she said. “The future of our Democracy depends on it.”
She also acknowledged the officers who defended the Capitol, DC representatives, and their staff. “The violence and chaos of that day cannot be forgotten, she said. “Let’s hope for a happy and healthy New Year and let Democracy prevail.”
Council member D’Amico sent a positive message of hope. “The sun will come up,” he said. “The sun came up on January 7th in the United States of America, and Joe Biden is the President and Kamalah Harris is Vice President. The sun came up this morning…we need to make sure we do what we need to do to get the outcome we want and the people we know we can trust to lead our country will be in position.”
Council member Erickson began with a public service announcement urging community members to wash their hands, wear a mask, and get vaccinated to keep everyone safe during the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. He said he remembered January 6th, because it was the day he was first vaccinated. He was working on getting others vaccinated at Planned Parenthood when he found himself fixated on his phone. “We watched something happen that we’d never seen happen before,” he said.
Mike Aguilera-Gaudette spoke on behalf of Congressman Adam Schiff: “Today marks one of the darkest moments in our Country’s history,” reads the statement. “We come together here, in Washington DC and across the country, to recommit ourselves in saving our Democracy and preventing future violence. That is what’s required on the anniversary of January 6th, nothing less than an awakening, a national movement to preserve our Democratic institutions…”
“We know that things didn’t end on January 6,” said Karen Andros Eyres in her speech. “All through last year there has been legislation underway to make sure that certain votes don’t count. I’m talking about a community of Black and Indigenous people. I’m talking about the LGBTQ population. I’m talking about women who would like to get into office…they would like to take away those votes.”
“It was exactly a year ago today that we were glued to the TV screen for hours in horror as a mob of violent insurrectionists stormed the Citadel of American Democracy seeking to disrupt the people’s Transfer of Power, one of the cornerstones of American Democracy, seeking to destruct the certification of Joe Biden as President of the United States,” said Alex Mohajer. “I don’t know about you, but I watched in horror for hours. I’m a child of an Iranian family who came to this country to escape the exact authoritarianism that we saw on display. I know a little something about a mob of zealots overthrowing our government. My mom came to this country to give us, her children, Democracy. The opportunities that she no longer had in a country that she loved so much. When I watched that mob storm that building, I knew that this did not happen in a vacuum. This mob did not begin with a big lie…the Republican establishment does not believe that Donald Trump won the 2020 election, but here they are quiet, cowards, spineless, because they benefit from his big lie…The time for compromise is over. It’s time the Chuck Schumer and Senate Democrats eliminate the filibuster and dash through voting right reform yesterday.”
Jasmyne Cannick made references to the film “Don’t Look Up,” saying she knows it is parody and though it speaks of climate change, it fits other areas in our lives today, particularly around the pandemic. She dittoed Alex’s comments about how the time for compromise is over, “I was like, ‘What are they doing?’ I didn’t think it was for real,” she said of the Capitol riot. “I was downtown. I turned on the television and I could not believe what I was watching.”
There was a heckler towards the end of the vigil. William West Seegmiller, a known anti-vaxer, screamed profanities at Abbe Land and called former council member John Heilman a pedophile. He criticized the event as political theater and he also yelled profanities at the publisher of this publication. Most of his heckling was intelligible. He appeared to be intoxicated.
The vigil ended with a short march around Sal Guarriello Veterans’ Memorial. The event lasted for about an hour.