The Carter Center has observed elections in some of the furthest reaches of the world, helping nascent democracies often in war-torn lands achieve peaceful transitions of power.
Today, the Atlanta-based nonprofit had to turn its sights inward on the U.S., as rioters supportive of outgoing President Donald Trump breached the Capitol in Washington in a bid to disrupt the certification of Joe Biden’s election as president.
One woman was shot and killed during the melee, which forced the evacuation of lawmakers and saw rioters roaming the Senate and House floors and even breaking into legislators’ offices.
Mr. Trump in the late afternoon urged them to “go home” in a video posted to Twitter while continuing to spout false claims of election fraud. The social media company later locked his account for terms violations.
The Carter Center posted two statements to its website Wednesday. In one, former President Jimmy Carter said he and former First Lady Rosalynn were “troubled” by the violence.
“This is a national tragedy and is not who we are as a nation. Having observed elections in troubled democracies worldwide, I know that we the people can unite to walk back from this precipice to peacefully uphold the laws of our nation, and we must,” Mr. Carter said. He called for “peaceful resolution,” a national healing and a complete transfer of power.
For its part, The Carter Center said Americans should be proud of having conducted an election with record turnout during a raging pandemic, but that the achievement was being undercut by those seeking to discredit the results:
“Although there is no doubt that the entire process has been credible, there has been an historically unprecedented and damaging effort to deny and reverse the expressed will of the people. This has put significant strain on our democratic system and created ill-founded doubt among millions of Americans about the integrity of the elections. As we have done throughout our history, it is now time to support a peaceful transition and work together toward a prosperous and shared future.”
The center in November helped monitor the hand recount of the presidential race in Georgia, the first time it had worked in this capacity in the U.S. after more than 100 election observation missions across 39 countries.
Metro Atlanta Chamber President Katie Kirkpatrick issued a statement on behalf of the 29-county region’s business community calling on all to honor the Constitution.
“We urge all Georgians to speak out, call for an end to violence of any sort, and help defend our country’s democratic principles. Our collective spirit of unity, our public health and our economic recovery depend on it,” Ms. Kirkpatrick said.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce issued an official statement on social media denouncing violence and threats in the Capitol Wednesday like the explosive device recovered at the Republication National Committee’s headquarters.
“We believe in the power of free enterprise, democracy and the rule of law, calling for all Georgians and American stories treat each other with civility and to respect the will of the electorate,” the Georgia Chamber statement read.
Some European consulates in Atlanta, including those of France and the Netherlands, retweeted statements from their ambassadors or heads of state, many expressing shock or disappointment at the scenes playing out in Washington.
The British consulate disseminated information from its embassy about the curfew and state of emergency imposed by the city of Washington D.C. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson joined other world leaders on Twitter in condemning the riots, calling the day’s events in the U.S. Congress “disgraceful.”
Wednesday’s events played out as it became clear that Democrats had swept the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff elections, giving them control of the upper chamber.
Rev. Rafael Warnock defeated Sen. Kelly Loeffler with enough margin to call the race Tuesday night, while Jon Ossoff‘s claim of victory Wednesday morning over Sen. David Perdue was later called by news outlets. Ms. Loeffler, who had planned to protest the awarding of electors to Mr. Biden, used a speech on Capitol Hill Wednesday evening to drop her own protest against certifying the election.