The events that transpired in our nation’s capital were not only shocking and unlawful, but represent a dark moment in our history that we must reckon with in the weeks to come.

The Constitution gives every American the right to peaceably assemble and protest. It does not condone or provide for opportunities to sow chaos or provoke insurrection. Sadly, many of the demonstrators in the nation’s capital on January 6 failed to live up to this obligation, and an alarming number willfully participated in an attack on the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to thwart the constitutional responsibilities of Congress. ‘The People’s House’ is the place where the will of our citizenry is rightfully expressed through its elected representatives – not a forum for mob rule and anarchy. The perpetrators of this despicable attack will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. The Department of Justice has arrested multiple people who are facing federal charges and we will continue to bring those responsible to justice.

It is also incumbent on every American to soberly recognize that the divisions in our society have reached a place beyond troubling, and we must prayerfully and diligently work to mend those divides so that what recently occurred is never repeated, or worse.

This assault is not the final word, however. Congress was not intimidated or cowed. We eventually reconvened and ultimately certified the vote of the Electoral College, performing our prescribed constitutional duty. Like many Arkansans, I am disappointed by the results of the 2020 presidential election, but we cannot erode the ideals that generations of Americans have fought to protect simply because we do not like the outcome of the election.

During the mayhem, there were countless acts of heroism and sacrifice including that of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Officer Sicknick fought to defend the Capitol building – as well as the members of Congress and staff in it – and was viciously attacked. He died of injuries resulting from the criminal mob. We honor his courageous service, mourn alongside his law enforcement colleagues and loved ones, and pray for comfort amid this senseless loss.

We all, as Americans, deserved better than what we experienced – a disturbing, demoralizing and entirely avoidable episode. We must pray for healing, and we must pledge to demand better from each other. This incident cannot define us, but it must persuade us that choosing a different and better course – one that lives up to the high ideals which have reliably sustained the United States and inspired our exceptional story – is the only path forward.

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