Local and state officials are condemning the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol that occurred as Congress met to certify the electoral votes from the November presidential election. The riots resulted in five deaths and numerous calls for the removal of President Donald Trump.
Before Congress met to certify the votes, Trump and his allies led a “Save America Rally,” where the president repeated the lie that there was widespread election fraud and told his supporters that he would march with them to the Capitol.
Controversy had already arisen over the election certification due to a group of Republican lawmakers who had pledged to raise objections to the electoral votes of a number of swing states that voted for Joe Biden, including Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Neither of North Carolina's U.S. senators, Thom Tillis and Richard Burr, were among the 14 Republican senators who had planned to object at the start of the day.
“I supported President Trump’s legal right to contest the election results through the courts, but the courts have now unanimously and overwhelmingly rejected these suits,” Burr said in a press release. “No evidence of voter fraud has emerged that would warrant overturning the 2020 election.”
Katelynn Vogt, the communications director for U.S. Rep. David Price, D-N.C., said in an email that the congressman was in his office in the Rayburn House Office Building and not the Capitol building itself when the mob stormed the building. Additionally, Vogt said that due to the pandemic, Price's staff was working remotely and was not at the Capitol or in the House office buildings.
“Since before the election, President Trump has fomented rage among his supporters with baseless conspiracies about the election, and yesterday it manifested into a violent attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol,” Price said in a press release. “The president and his Republican enablers in Congress are responsible for the mob and their acts of insurrection.”
The congressman announced in the press release that he has joined calls for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and is also cosponsoring articles of impeachment. Additionally, he said Trump’s Jan. 2 call to the Georgia secretary of state — during which Trump asked the secretary to “find” votes that would secure him a win — and Trump's rhetoric that incited the mob warrant not just removal from office, but also a ban from holding public office again.
N.C. Rep. Verla Insko, D-Orange, said she supported efforts to impeach the president a second time despite the fact that he only has a couple more weeks left in office. She said that she sees it as taking a stand that would be very public because people need to see their elected officials respond.
Insko said her initial reaction to what she saw at the Capitol was anger at how unprepared law enforcement was in dealing with the rioters. She said that everyone saw this coming.
“The lack of response was almost as disturbing to me as the fact that the riot happened,” Insko said.
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger also expressed shock at the seeming lack of security at the Capitol. She said over the last few years, the Town has worked with neighboring cities and UNC to make sure there is a plan of action if something were to happen. She said it was shocking that the Capitol didn't seem to have a plan.
“There was chatter,” Hemminger said. “We follow chatter on the social networks, as well. The president was even encouraging people to come do this, so I would think you’d be prepared for it.”
Renee Price, chairperson of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, drew comparisons between the response by law enforcement and treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer.
“I’ve heard in one report that the police were taking selfies with what I would call insurrectionists, and it can be a kind of a calming tactic,” she said. “But they don’t use that tactic when there’s African Americans or people of color. How often do you see that? We rarely see anything like that.”
Despite the violence seen at the Capitol, Insko said she remains hopeful for the future. She said the violence was discouraging and troubling, but the victories Democrats had in Georgia signaled that everything was not all bad. She said often when there is a moral step forward, there is also pushback, and the movement to be more inclusive will ultimately prevail.
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