Presidents from UND, University of Minnesota decry violence at U.S. Capitol

UND President Andrew Armacost added that the university “remains committed to civil dialogue, free speech and respect for others.”

Smoke billows in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, Jan. 6, after a mob stormed the building. REUTERS / Stephanie Keith

In response to Wednesday’s violent chaos at the nation’s capital , UND President Andrew Armacost said he was “appalled to watch the incursion into the U.S. Capitol.”

In a message sent to campus on Thursday, Jan. 7,, Armacost added that he “unambiguously” condemns the violence that erupted yesterday.

“I mourn the loss of life, and I celebrate the actions of the brave souls who prevented additional tragedy,” Armacost wrote. “When political positions turn into violent actions, we must each condemn those actions and continue to work towards peaceful resolution of our differences, never resorting to violence.”

Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday afternoon in an attempt to stop Congress from confirming the election results.

Rioters forced their way past barricades and U.S. Capitol police to break into the Capitol building and the chambers of Congress many carrying “Trump 2020” flags. Four people died amid the chaos, including one woman who died of a gunshot wound and three from medical emergencies.


Lawmakers eventually returned to their chambers to continue their debate on the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral college win. The results were confirmed in the early hours of Thursday morning.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in Washington
Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump clash with police officers in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on Jan. 6. REUTERS/Leah Millis

In his statement, Armacost said the country has a “long history of a peaceful transition of power following presidential elections.”

“Throughout my Air Force career and into my new life at UND, I have proudly shared with others my appreciation of this important tradition. Yesterday, we saw something I could never have fathomed,” he said. “I was appalled to watch the incursion into the U.S. Capitol, which happened as the Congress was certifying the results of the Electoral College.”

University of Minnesota President Joan Gabel said she joins the campus in the “shock at the inconceivability of what we witnessed happening here in America.”

“That abstraction quickly became a tragic reality as our national ideals were tested in an assault on our citadel of liberty,” she said in a statement. “The effort to undermine these ideals failed, but we must remain steadfast in ensuring the light of our democracy remains strong and that our shared pursuit towards a more perfect union endures.”

Following the statement from Gabel, University of Minnesota Crookston Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause issued a statement reflecting on citizenship and civility.


“We must do better than yesterday’s actions,” she said. “Our democratic system is an idea and ideal that relies on the rule of law. Without a democratic system, no one gets a voice. We respect First Amendment rights, and we equally respect our democratic system that provides for a peaceful transition of power to sustain itself.”

Minnesota State Chancellor Devinder Malhotra tweeted as the events unfolded Wednesday evening: "Messages and pictures coming from our national Capitol are frightening and sickening, and such behaviors have no place in a civilized society. Today let us recommit to work hard to preserve our democracy."


Armacost added that the university “remains committed to civil dialogue, free speech and respect for others.”
“I am proud to be part of a university focused on lofty ideals of citizenship and what it means to be responsible members of a free society,” he wrote. “I challenge each member of our community to reflect upon yesterday's events and resolve to become beacons of progress, civility and hope. We are stronger when we work together. E Pluribus Unum.”

Mob clashes with police at U.S. Capitol
Protesters wave American and Confederate flags during clashes with Capitol police at a rally to contest the certification of the 2020 U.S. presidential election results by the U.S. Congress, at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S, January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton


Former UND President Mark Kennedy, who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007 as a Republican from Minnesota, also spoke about Wednesday’s events. Kennedy is now president of the University of Colorado system.

“In Congress, I was told ‘If you enter the Capitol and don’t feel awe and reverence, it's time to retire,’” he tweeted. “I never lost that feeling. I left when I lost a U.S. Senate race. The electorate spoke. I listened. The disrespect being shown to the temple of our democracy is heartbreaking.”

Sydney Mook has been the managing editor at the Herald since April 2021. In her role she edits and assigns stories and helps reporters develop their work for readers.

Mook has been with the Herald since May 2018 and was first hired as the Herald's higher education reporter where she covered UND and other happenings in state higher education. She was later promoted to community editor in 2019.

For story pitches contact her at or call her at 701-780-1134.
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