Wyoming reacts to U.S. Capitol protests

Law enforcement officers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 attempt to regain control of the building (Photo: Blink O'fanaye/Flickr, Creative Commons).
Law enforcement officers at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 attempt to regain control of the building (Photo: Blink O'fanaye/Flickr, Creative Commons).

In a series of statements and interviews, Wyoming’s elected officials have condemned the actions of a group of insurrectionists that stormed and vandalized the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon.

From where he stood, the protests at the U.S. Capitol yesterday appeared organized and peaceful, Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Frank Eathorne said in a statement Thursday.

He attended the rally in support of President Trump, he said, but left the rally mid-afternoon before any of the violence began.

“The lawn between the White House and the Washington Monument is a very large area and held an unknown number of peaceful demonstrators who came to listen to speakers including Rudy Giuliani and President Trump,” he said.

He learned of the rioting from the news later that afternoon, he said, and agreed with the President’s statement last night urging peace and love as the right course of action.

Campbell County Commissioner Del Shelstad watched the events unfold on the evening news, stating that he wasn’t alarmed when the crowd swarmed outside the U.S. Capitol.

“Peaceful protest is a healthy part of a democracy,” he said, adding that it initially appeared to him that most of the people there seemed to be there to do just that.

“I was really kind of shocked when they started breaking windows and breaking into the building and starting to assault police officers,” Shelstad continued. He said that the U.S. Constitution, through the First Amendment, gives the people a way to address any grievances with their government.

“And that is to use their words and tell them what they are upset about (through peaceful protest),” he said.

He stated that the group that broke into and vandalized the U.S. Capitol did not represent the majority of those who support President Donald Trump.

“There’s always a couple of bad apples in every crate. It was disappointing,” Shelstad said.

Gillette City Councilman Shay Lundvall shared Shelstad’s views and added that the rioting at the U.S. Capitol did not have a place in American democracy.

“You can have a peaceful protest and you can have a cause for something. But as soon as you start to get violent, it’s done, it’s over. There’s no tolerance in my opinion for that,” Lundvall said.

Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney did not hold back on her contempt for the President’s actions, saying in an interview with The Hill that she blamed him for lighting ‘the flame’ that incited the mob to riot.

“There’s no question the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. He lit the flame,” the third-highest-ranking House Republican said on Twitter.

Unlike fellow incoming Senator Republican Cynthia Lummis, Cheney has been outspoken in recent days about the President’s inflammatory rhetoric about perceived election fraud and rejected his call to Republican House members to decertify Electoral College votes from a handful of key swing states, including Georgia and Arizona.

Earlier in the week, Lummis had joined with a coalition of more than a dozen other senators, led by Texas Senator Ted Cruz, to attempt to reject the elector ballots for U.S. President from some states.

Following the riots, Lummis condemned the violence, saying in a statement that violent protests “were unacceptable this summer and are unacceptable now.”

“Call it what it is: An attack on the Capitol is an attack on democracy,” Lummis said in a tweet. “Today we are trying to use the democratic process to address grievances. This violence inhibits our ability to do that.”

Sen. John Barrasso followed suit, tweeting, “This violence and destruction have no place in our republic. It must end now.”

Outgoing State Representative Scott Clem, who this week organized a Free Wyoming Rally at the Wyoming State Capitol in which hundreds of residents attended including many from Campbell County, called out what he sees as the hypocrisy from many condemning yesterday’s protests while saying nothing about the rioting and looting by protestors this past summer.

 

Can’t stand the fake news. Apparently you can’t do violence against the capitol “building”, otherwise you’re an…

Posted by Rep. Scott Clem for Wyoming House District 31 on Wednesday, January 6, 2021

 

The events at the U.S. Capitol began peaceful Wednesday morning. Thousands of citizens, urged to assemble in a series of Tweets from President Donald Trump, gathered in protest of the U.S. Congress’s planned certification of election results recognizing President-elect Joe Biden as the winner of the election.

They did not stay peaceful.

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News reports from across the nation showed hundreds of protesters fighting with and temporarily overrunning Capitol and D.C. Metropolitan Police. Those same protesters, whom some in the Senate are referring to as “insurrectionists,” entered the Capitol Building where they reportedly broke windows and ransacked desks in the senate chambers.

In the ensuing chaos, four people died. U.S. Air force veteran, 35-year-old Ashli Babbit, was shot by police and later died of her injuries, according to news reports.

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In addition, two men in their 50’s and a woman in her 30’s died of separate medical emergencies, according to a statement from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee.

In the same statement, Contee announced that 56 police officers were injured during the rioting.

As of the writing of this piece, 84 people have been arrested. Officials say that 14 of those people were arrested for charges related to assaulting police officers, carrying firearms without a permit, and unlawful entry. The rest of the individuals face charges relating to unrest, according to a statement made by the Capitol Police.

Despite the chaos, Congress reconvened and certified Biden as the next President of the United States who will take office Jan. 20.

Images from Blink O’fanaye are licensed under a Creative Commons license. No changes were made to the images.