The American Institute of Architects (AIA) recently issued a statement by Peter Exley, FAIA & Robert Ivy, FAIA condemning the violence at Capitol Hill on January 6. Their statement follows.
Destruction is not an acceptable form of expression. Violence is not a viable policy position. Neither has a place in civil society. AIA categorically condemns the violence and destruction caused by rioters bent on disrupting the nation’s peaceful transfer of power.
The riots were an appalling act of entitlement and weakness. They were the antithesis of our country’s founding ideals. It was also obvious that the latent response of law enforcement to the mob was yet another reminder of the significant differences between the policing of white vs brown and black people.
The insurgents, their supporters, and instigators do not understand what makes our country strong and enduring: respect for differences, reasoned discourse, and above all, the belief that America’s best days are ahead. There is no better symbol of those ideals than the powerful United States Capitol building.
But the United States Capitol is also a reminder of the nation’s original sins: The dislocation of native peoples and the enslavement of Africans. It sits on the ancestral land of the Nacotchtank, Piscataway and Pamunkey peoples. And the building was created with the extensive use of the labor and skill of enslaved Africans. That melding of noble aspirations and profound failings is foundational to the American experiment.
We are not a perfect union, yet we continue to strive to be the more perfect union envisioned 233 years ago. That relentless centuries-long pursuit is what inspires millions around the world and gives us hope.
In the spirit of hope, in a few days we will celebrate the life and exceptional contribution of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King dedicated his life to bending the historical arc of our nation closer toward universal justice.
It is also fitting that we will witness the transition of power that symbolizes the collective responsibility of “we the people” to work together toward a future that is fairer, healthier, and more sustainable for everyone, everywhere.
Both are well-timed reminders of what is best about our nation.
In the coming days, as we begin a new chapter in America’s history, we should all remember that what unites us – the belief that we are created equal and have a responsibility to leave our society better than we found it – is far more important and enduring than suspicion and division.
As architects, we are committed to those ideals.
Dr. King’s words resonate today, “All mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of identity. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”