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Former U.S. Senate Staffer And Professor Calls Capitol Assault 'Heartbreaking'

Ciara Torres Spelliscy profile photo
Stetson University
Ciara Torres Spelliscy

A Pinellas County law professor who worked in the U.S. Senate expressed dismay over the violence in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy was a staffer for Democratic Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin before she became a professor at Stetson University College of Law.

"Heartbreaking" was the first word she used to describe what happened in the U.S. Capitol.

"It's heartbreaking to me to see people, desecrating the US Capitol with violence and disrespect for our electoral process," she said.

Torres-Spelliscy says the country has to return to the rule of law - where it respects the outcome of elections - even if the president doesn't.

"This is just outrageous and unacceptable. And each person who participated in this really deserves to be arrested for this behavior, because it's illegal and prosecuted," she said.

She says violence won't work in the long run, and only caused a short delay in the process of certifying the electoral college votes to make Joe Biden president.

"But it is nonetheless disturbing," she said, "because this is how you lose a democracy is if you can change who gets to be in power, not by who wins at a ballot box, but rather through just physical violence."

Torres-Spelliscy said it seemed to be a failure to secure the Capitol.

"It takes up many, many city blocks. So understand that it's a logistical nightmare to secure, but we knew that this was a potential threat. And so I'm a little bit dismayed that there wasn't enough officers on hand.

"The President himself has not conceded that he lost the 2020 election," she continued. "I think that created an atmosphere of distrust among his followers of the democratic process. And the rhetoric that's been used, you know, 'stop the steal.' where this is a rigged election that incites violence. I think a lot of us have been saying this for a while that there's a risk of violence with this kind of democracy. Often, we got hyperbolic, well, actually, we weren't being hyperbolic, is the alternative to a democratic process is chaos and violence."

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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