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Cline Center Designates Capitol Violence As ‘Attempted Coup’

Scott Althaus is the Executive Director of The Cline Center for Advanced Social Research at the University of Illinois.

URBANA — The violence at the US Capitol on January 6th was an attempted coup d’état. That’s the conclusion of The Cline Center for Advanced Social Research at the University of Illinois.

The Cline Center has been curating data on coups and attempted coups since 2013. Illinois Newsroom’s Brian Moline spoke with The Cline Center’s Executive Director, Scott Althaus, about why they classify the violence at the US Capitol as such.

Listen to the interview here.

“Our definition of a coup d’état has five elements,” Althaus said. “The day after the January 6th assault on the US Capitol building, it was clear at that time that the first three criteria had been met by the event already.

  1. There must be some person or persons who initiated the coup. 
  2. The target of the coup must have meaningful control over national policy. 
  3. There must be a credible threat to the leaders’ hold on power. 
  4. Illegal or irregular means must be used to seize, remove, or render powerless the target of the coup.  
  5. It must be an organized effort. 

“In the weeks that followed, we had a team of researchers that had been working to look through available public information,” he said.

Althaus says the designation is important for several reasons.

“The data that we make and distribute for free to anyone who wants to use it is very important data for helping risk managers do predictive analytics for understanding risks of political instability of one sort or another,” he said.

Follow Brian on Twitter @BMolineWILL.

Picture of Brian Moline

Brian Moline

Brian Moline is the Managing Editor of Illinois Newsroom and host of Morning Edition for Illinois Public Media/WILL. He's been with WILL since 2015, after a long stint at WDWS-AM in Champaign where he covered both news and sports for more than a decade. If you have story or interview ideas, you can reach Brian at bmoline@illinois.edu.

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