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Violence and leaders who incite it have no place in our democracy

We at the Irvine Foundation were shocked and disgusted by the violent attempt this week to disrupt our democracy at the nation’s Capitol. Our democracy embraces vigorous debate and disagreement, but violence or the threat of violence has no place in our discourse or our decision making.

Our democracy – and the promise of the American Dream itself – require that our citizens and our leaders respect the will of the people. Irvine grantees – and many others – are working for that fair, just society every day. We stand by them in condemning violence, misinformation, and other efforts to subvert our democracy.

We’re proud to partner with leaders from more than 250 philanthropic institutions to stand together against this attack on our democracy (see statement here and below).  We are grateful to be in a position to speak out and to invest in organizations working to create a better society in the face of political extremism, racism, exploitation, misinformation, and other threats to our democracy.

In addition to this letter, I also agree with political leaders on both sides of the aisle, newspaper editorial boards, and business groups demanding accountability for those who incite violence, insurrection, and division. We must call out and counter these acts of violence – and the leaders who condone them – if we are to deliver on the promise of our democracy and the American Dream.

Philanthropies condemn political violence, call on leaders to protect democracy and get back to the people’s business


As representatives of nonpartisan philanthropic institutions, serving rural, urban, and suburban communities across the nation, we condemn the violence that broke out at the U.S. Capitol this week. The events in Washington are a stain on our nation’s history and a painful break in the peaceful transition of power that has been a defining hallmark of American democracy for more than 200 years.

The shameful events are the result of actions by President Trump and other political leaders who have recklessly fanned the flames of grievance. Those responsible for this deadly violence and insurrection must be held to account, and we call on Republican leaders, in particular, in government and media to unequivocally reject conspiracy theories and the actions of extremists who use violence. After hard-fought campaigns, extraordinary voter turnout, and the resolution of more than 60 election-related lawsuits, it is long past time for our nation to accept the results of the 2020 election so that our duly elected leaders — President-elect Biden, Vice President-elect Harris and members of the 117th Congress — can move forward with addressing the nation’s pressing challenges.

Our organizations donate hundreds of millions of dollars to charitable causes each year to advance the common good. While we have different funding approaches, vary in our areas of focus, and are ideologically diverse, we share a belief in the importance of finding common ground to solve problems and serve people and communities. And while we may vary in our views on the size and scope of government, we share a belief that safeguarding the health, security, and rights of people and communities requires a government whose leaders can accept the election results, bridge divisions that have roiled our nation, work in good faith to forge solutions, and stand up for democracy.

As the U.S. faces the most dire global health emergency in 100 years, the worst economic crisis in modern history, and a racial reckoning overdue for centuries, it is time to move on from last year’s election, cease further delays in the transition of power, and turn to governance. To our duly elected leaders, we urge you to follow facts and let science lead the way toward solving the COVID-19 crisis. We encourage you to listen to diverse voices — including those of people who have been overlooked, forgotten, and excluded, and who are facing persistent threats to their lives and livelihoods. We call on you to repair our tattered social fabric and help our democracy live up to its ideals. And we stand ready to work with you to move our country forward and increase opportunity for all who call it home.

View the letter and signatories here.