Statement from the Music Library Association Board in Response to the January 6, 2021 Attack on the US Capitol

The morning of January 6th started off optimistically as we witnessed evidence that democracy works. In an election that saw record-breaking turnout, Georgia voters elected their first Black senator and first Jewish senator while the nation waited to witness what should have been a symbolic and ceremonial exercise of a peaceful transition of power in Congress.

By late afternoon a violent mob tried to squelch democracy and demonstrated the power and destruction of the unchecked spread of disinformation. It should go without saying that we, as an association of library workers devoted to preserving information and helping our users discover factual information, solidly stand against actions that support such disruption of democratic processes and the distribution of false and deceptive information.

Further, as we witnessed how quickly the Capitol building was breached, we observed the response of law enforcement. Many of us recall last summer when the strangulation of a Black man, George Floyd, at the knee of a White police officer prompted hundreds of protests nationwide against systematic and historical injustice. In many cities, law enforcement met peaceful protesters with tear gas, violence, and arrests. The difference in responses to the insurrectionists and Black Lives Matter peaceful protesters is a stark reminder of inequity and injustice and the importance of each individual to stand against such blatant unfairness. Yet again, we recognize that this distinction further magnifies the pain experienced daily by our BIPOC members and by those we serve.

And so we are reminded that the work we do in our organization to promote social justice for our members and those we serve, and what we do to promote inclusion and belonging, are crucial links in a chain that connects us, through the work we do as managers and protectors of knowledge, to our users. If we value the equity of all voices and perspectives, our professional practice must be informed by an exchange of information that reinforces the truth and supports democracy itself.

As knowledge workers who believe in critical thinking and civil dialog, as organizers of information who value the rule of law, as archivists who object to the desecration of monuments to liberty, as an association serving the performing arts, we detest the incitement to violence by anyone, let alone a sitting United States president. We unreservedly condemn the insurrection of January 6, 2021.

We, as the Board of MLA, especially extend our support and concern for our members who work and live in Washington, DC and other cities where violence was incited on Wednesday. While these times feel civically perilous for all of us, we recognize that for some of our members who are currently on the frontlines of violence, the sense of danger and unrest are all-the-more palpable. We wish them safety and wellbeing.

As the events continue to unfold, may all of our members find the space and safety you need as you grapple with your own responses and reactions, and may you all find comfort in community.