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Northwestern experts available to comment on the violent protests in D.C.

‘Society should learn the lesson about what happens when democracy is being undermined and its institutions are being attacked,’ professor says

EVANSTON, Ill. - Northwestern University professors in the fields of history, political science, psychology and more are available to provide analysis and commentary on the riots in the U.S. Capitol.

Connect with faculty directly using the contact information below or reach out to us for assistance.

For more experts on U.S. politics, check out our Politics 2021 press kit. There you'll find experts available to discuss a wide range of  issues, from President Elect Joe Biden's plans for his first 100 days to what is in store for President Donald J. Trump after he leaves office. 

Experts available on U.S. Capitol violence

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Alvin B. Tillery Jr.

Expert on social movements and protests

Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies
Director, Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy

  • American politics
  • Racial and ethnic politics/ Black Lives Matter
  • Media and politics
  • Public opinion
  • Political communication and political participation

Michael Allen

Expert on U.S. political history

Associate professor of history

  • 25th Amendment law
  • Modern U.S. political and diplomatic history 
  • Presidential politics

Allen is the author of “Until the Last Man Comes Home: POWs, MIAs, and the Unending Vietnam War. His current work-in-progress, “New Politics: The Imperial Presidency, The Pragmatic Left, and the Problem of Democratic Power, 1933-1981,” explores evolving left-liberal relations to presidential power in the postwar era. 

“It is past time for national leaders who wish to protect our nation and preserve its democracy to impeach and convict Donald Trump and/or seek to remove him from office via the 25th Amendment, both of which were intended to deal with precisely this sort of danger from executive power, which the nation’s founders considered the most grave threat to a constitutional democracy, one nearly as dangerous as the king they had just waged revolution against. He has shown over the last 24 hours and over the last two months, that he only becomes more dangerous as his days as president dwindle and he cannot safely be allowed to remain in office.”

Kevin Boyle

Expert on contemporary U.S. history

William Smith Mason Professor of American History

  • Economic and labor history
  • African diaspora and African American history
  • Legal and criminal history

Michael Conway

Expert on presidential politics

Adjunct lecturer in journalism

  • Presidential politics
  • Ethics and law
"History teaches that President Trump can be impeached even after leaving office.  In the 19th Century the Senate refused to dismiss an impeachment trial against the Secretary of War, even though the official had resigned, " said Michael M. Conway, who served as counsel in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee Inquiry of President Richard Nixon.
 
"Conviction by the Senate in an impeachment trial would have real world consequences.  If 2/3 of the senators vote to uphold the impeachment article, the Senate then could - by a simple majority vote -- bar Trump from ever holding federal office again." 
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Olga Kamenchuck

Expert on attempted coupes in other nations

Associate Research Professor, Institute for Policy Research
Senior Lecturer, School of Communication

  • Russian-American relations and security
  • The impact of hate speech and societal polarization in the U.S.
  • Comparisons to attacks on democracy and attempted coupes in authoritarian and post-authoritarian regimes, particularly in the former USSR

“What we see happening in D.C. and the Capitol reminds us of the coups from the authoritarian and the post-authoritarian world -- attempted and successful ones. U.S. democracy, though, is older, its institutions are more stable, and its media is free. It will be much harder to succeed in an attempt of a coup. Yet, society should learn the lesson about what happens when democracy is being undermined and its institutions are being attacked, what happens when hate is being seeded, spread and voted for.” 

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David Rapp

Expert on misinformation and political beliefs

Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence
School of Education and Social Policy
Professor of Psychology, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Rapp is an author on two upcoming studies that help explain the psychology behind the belief that President Trump won reelection in November:

“Current news reports have highlighted members of the Capitol mob as including individuals who refuse to accept recent election results. In this case, as in others recently, people seem both adamant and confident that their views and beliefs, which run counter to expert consensus, clear legal and media evidence, and in general just lack any strong proof. Our recent work has shown that one important factor influencing whether people take up new ideas, or rigidly adhere to their own existing beliefs, depends on their confidence in what they know. Overconfidence can lead to a snowball effect. 

People’s overconfidence in issues such as how the government and elections operate, may make them resistant to listening to critical new information and discarding their faulty beliefs. As a consequence, they are also more willing to take up additional inaccuracies that fit with what they already know, and that help confirm that what they know makes sense.” 

Erik C. Nisbet

Expert on political misinformation

Owen L. Coon Endowed Professor of Policy Analysis and Communication and director of the Center for Communication and Public Policy in Northwestern’s School of Communication

  • Collecting data via an ongoing panel survey on tolerance of violence
  • Can speak to partisan violence and misinformation

Tabitha Bonilla

Expert on political messaging and beliefs

Assistant professor of human development and social policy

  • How messaging influences voters’ responses to political issues and candidates
  • How campaign messages and kept promises are viewed asymmetrically by those who agree with candidates and elected officials

Ian Kelly

Expert in foreign relations

Ambassador in Residence

Kelly is a retired senior foreign service officer who most recently served as the U.S. ambassador to Georgia from 2015 to 2018. Previously he served as the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) from 2010 to 2013. Prior to these ambassadorships, Kelly held a variety of high-level positions at the U.S. State Department, including serving as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson (2009-2010). 

"The violent attempt yesterday to subvert the will of people was an experience that was all too familiar to me from my service as a diplomat overseas. Our standing in the global democratic community has been deeply damaged by yesterday's events. A hallmark of democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. We can restore much of that standing if we allow that to happen January 20 and bring those who tried to thwart that process to justice."

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Brayden King

Expert on business response to riots

Max McGraw Chair in Management and the Environment
Professor of Management & Organizations
Chair of Management & Organizations Department

“Peoples’ actions speak to the character and reputations of their employers. When companies learn that one of their employees participated in the insurrection at the capitol, they certainly worry about what tolerating that sort of behavior will say about them. Is this the sort of workplace that tolerates roundly criticized behavior? Companies’ quick actions to fire their employees is a proactive attempt to maintain their reputation during a time of political unrest when many are concerned that democratic norms are being undermined.

“Moreover, many companies find themselves in a position of taking a leadership stance in articulating what sorts of political activities ought not to be considered legitimate. By expelling employees from their companies, these organizations not only signal an essential part of their own character but they indicate to the nation/world where the boundaries are for acceptable political expression.”

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Nicholas Pearce

Expert on business response to riots

Clinical Associate Professor of Management and Organizations

“Firing people whose conduct violates workplace norms/standards should not be seen as equivalent to creating inclusive workplaces. In many cases, such firings are actually performative reactions to shield the company leadership from the perception that they're harboring domestic terrorists. The much harder work is auditing and sustainably transforming systems that reproduce disproportionately unjust, inequitable outcomes for people of color.”­ 

Danielle Bell

Expert on business response to riots

Assistant professor at Medill

  • Communications and branding
  • Efforts related to equity, inclusion, women in the workplace and BIPOC

"Companies now understand the importance – the moral rightness, if you will – of speaking out in support of their employees, customers and other stakeholders impacted by systemic injustices in this country. When an employee is outed on social media for doing the very thing a company stands against – the company’s reputation is on the line and their next steps are now publicly scrutinized. Companies firing employees – especially at-will employees – for any reason or no reason at all is not new. What’s new is that what typically gets handled in private by HR is now being played out on social media for everyone to see."