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Locals share what they saw in DC

  • 8 min to read

Editors’s Note: We’ve talked to local people who were in Washington, DC, to learn why they attended the Save America Rally and what they saw during this historical event that shook the nation.

Much like other national stories of interest, we did this to learn more about what happened so we could provide a local perspective to our readers.

Based on negative feedback from social media when first reporting these events, we’re not going to debate semantics as to whether to define the Save America Rally and the subsequent chaos that ensued as a protest, rally, riot or use words like sedition, treason or insurrection.

And in contrast to the major mainstream media, we’re not going to demonize the people who attended the protest because they are part of our northeastern North Carolina community.

To read an editorial about judging people, see the editorial board opinion on page A4.

People we interviewed said they attended the rally to peacefully protest what they view as a fraudulent election and to support President Donald Trump.

Elections results indicate that 74 million people voted for Trump and 81 million people cast ballots for President-elect Joe Biden.

None of the people we spoke to participated in the Jan. 6 events inside the Capitol building that echoed around the world.

When rioters breached police perimeters, they then occupied, vandalized, looted and ransacked parts of the Capitol building for several hours. The breach led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol building, as well as five deaths.

Later as these events transpired, everyone we talked to was made aware of what was happening based on news reports, not firsthand knowledge.

Because of the bitter partisan divide and cancel culture, we are not publishing these people’s names so as to protect their identities and their careers. To illustrate this point about repercussions, one woman we talked to was fired from her job because she attended the rally.

‘A long hard day’

One man, a longtime conservative with strong ties to Edenton, shared his perspective about what happened. He was leading a group of people that he had traveled with from northeastern NC. The man said his group was at least 80 yards away from the Capitol building when they decided to leave – long before protesters stormed the complex.

“I don’t know if this was a planned thing or if it was just something that just kind of naturally gelled, but starting at about one one o’clock or so, people started filing out from the grounds where the president was speaking,” he said. “From there, it seemed like everybody was walking to the Capitol where the congressional proceedings had started at that point. We got there and like I said, we were pretty far from the main entrance. I told my people I said you can go closer, but be back by 2:30 because we’re going to leave.”

During the day, the crowd’s mood changed, the man said, between excitement and more, much more.

“I would I would say the mood ran the gamut,” he said. “I mean basically it was very very enthusiastic from where I was standing at the Ellipse. I can tell you that the mood started in the morning as being celebratory or well, maybe not celebratory, but certainly, you know, a gathering of like-minded people. In some cases, certainly in my case, it was meeting with old friends, having a good time and listening to the president. On the way back, I guess somber is the best word for some of the people who were on the bus with me traveling home. I really wish we could have come home in a more celebratory mood, but you know, be that as it may, it didn’t happen. It was a long hard day. I just don’t know. It’s hard to find words to describe.”

Man recalled one of the characters he saw – the guy wearing the horns, Jacob Anthony Chansley, a longtime QAnon supporter from Arizona who was later arrested. Chansley was photographed standing at Vice President Mike Pence’s chair on the Senate dais, bare-chested, face painted and carrying a spear.

“I will say that there were a couple of characters that were dressed up and some were rather unusual. I’m sure you’ve seen the pictures,” the man said. “Funny thing about it is, the guy that was standing near where we were on the parade ground by the Ellipse – he was the one with the buffalo horns. I was only standing a few feet from him for about two or three minutes. Wow! The only thought that I had was, ‘okay, that’s interesting and a little weird. You’re dressed up like that in 45 degree weather in January – how stupid can you be!?’”

The man did not sense an Antifa presence.

“Let me tell you an observation that I made. There was nobody, and I mean nobody, that acted like they were from Antifa or Black Lives Matter,” he said. “When we got to the Capitol grounds, I mean it looked like they were all Trump supporters. I half expected that there were going to be BLM and Antifa activists lining the streets rushing to get into our faces, but that did not happen.”

So as to avoid the rush of thousands of people lining up to board the metro to leave the rally, the group left the scene long before the chaos began.

“Interestingly enough,” the man said, “we started towards the metro station. Then about 25 minutes later, all of a sudden we’re seeing what we’re seeing – squad cars from federal law enforcement and the DC police. The only question that came to my mind is what the hell is going on here. Slowly but surely, information came trickling back to us that the security barrier had been breached and that there had been people who actually went into the chambers. It was also at that point that I found out about the young lady being shot.”

No matter who is responsible, Trump supporters or outside groups, the man condemned the violence and said those responsible should go to prison.

“Nobody really knows the truth of what happened,” the man said. “I mean other than the fact that security got breached and sadly people died in the inside the Capitol building. But whether they were Trump supporters or whether they were Antifa who were responsible, nobody really knows from my own personal perspective, my opinion is that whoever it was, it is that it was just wrong period and yeah, it should never have happened.”

Election was ‘stolen’

A Perquimans County woman shared her observations.

“I went because this election was stolen,” she said “I went to stand up for the Constitution of the United States. We have a very corrupt government! We the people are tired of not being heard. What I saw was patriotism from all walks of life – all races and different ethnic backgrounds.”

Washington Post reports that the FBI says Antifa was not responsible. Many media outlets report that Black Lives Matter Activist John Sullivan, the founder of Utah-based Insurgence USA, was photographed inside the Capitol documenting the chaotic scene. Insurgence USA describes itself as “the revolution.”

Though there are conflicting reports as to whether outside groups are responsible, the woman believes they were.

“Antifa was definitely there and they instigated everything that happened at the Capitol,” she said.

The woman said as the crowd’s mood changed and events unfolded, she embraced her faith.

“I was not scared. When you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and savior and stand for truth, there is no fear,” she said.

The woman noted the national media’s double standard when reporting last year’s demonstrations where cities, including Washington DC, were burned, businesses looted, police attacked and people killed, however, these news events were branded as “peaceful protests” as opposed to what some media outlets are describing as an insurrection or attempted coup last week at the Capitol building.

“Mainstream media is the enemy to the people,” she said. “They never showed outrage when the thugs were burning down cities, smashing windows of businesses and looting over the summer. They actually called it ‘peaceful protesting.’”

Woman shared a text her boss sent her Wednesday evening while the nation watched as events unfolded that fateful day.

Boss texted, “I think it is best that you take off the rest of the week. I didn’t realize there was going to be 250K people. Come back Monday if you are symptom free. I think it is best for business. Thanks.”

Woman responded to the man’s text by saying, “Ummm Ok. Please bring my check with you when you come.”

Boss responded, “Payroll is not done until Tuesday. Can get a paper check or you can wait til Tuesday.”

Woman replied, “Paper check is fine and I would also like a letter of separation explaining why exactly I was fired.”

Boss said, “No problem.”

Later the woman explained, “His explanation was that he wanted to go in a different direction. I’ve never been written up. Never late, etcetera. He even offered me the day off (to attend the rally).”

Support the President

A Hertford woman shared her account about attending the rally.

“I went to DC to show my support of America and free, fair, and honest elections. I went to stand against cheating,” she said. “I went to show support for those standing up to protect and defend our country.”

Lady described what she saw.

“The mood of the crowd at the Ellipse, in Washington, DC was wonderful,” she said. “I brought my four-month-old baby and my three oldest children. People were helping me when I was changing her diaper or feeding her. They were offering their coat if they thought she was cold. They were helping me hold my hair back so that she could nurse. The crowd was wonderful.”

The woman said she didn’t see any violence.

“I saw no trouble and no violence at all. I did not go into the Capitol,” she said. “The only violence that I have heard of was inside the Capitol after the Ellipse event was over. There was no violence outside.”

Woman offered her opinion of what happened.

“I think the historical significance of the event was the fact that so many people came together calmly and lovingly to support our president and what he represents for our country,” she said. “We came there to show our support of free, fair, and honest elections. We came to show that we do not accept cheating, lies, and falsehood in an election. I think this is important because such a massive group of people came together to save our country and to stand up for this injustice that’s taking place with several swing states which affects our nation as a whole and the future of our nation.”

Historical event

An Edenton woman talked about here experiences and why she attended the protest.

“We went to support our President and to protest an unfair election,” she said. “We participated the whole morning in front of the Washington Monument. What we experienced was a wide range of people like us that traveled from all over the country for this protest. It was very chill and peaceful the whole morning. We enjoyed hearing the Trump children speak as well as Rudy Giuliani and then finally the President himself. Everyone was very respectful of everyone around them. We saw whole families with their children there and folks from all nations based on the flags that were flown.”

Woman said the president did not incite violence.

“We did not hear the President say to storm the Capitol building,” she said. “He said we were going to march up to the Capital building and protest. After he was done speaking we decided not to go to the Capitol building because we were cold from standing outside all morning. And not everyone went to the Capitol building but a lot did walk that way.”

This woman too blamed Antifa and the media. Soon after she shared a YouTube link with video footage of the event that she said implicated Antifa, the video was taken down by the tech giant.

“Antifa was definitely the instigator of the violence,” she said. “Most mainstream media is not reporting that or the truth about what the President actually said. He wanted it to be peaceful!”

Later, the woman learned what had happened inside the Capitol.

“While we were having lunch, we started to hear about what was happening at the Capitol building and we were glad we did not go, she said. “I don’t think it will go down in history like 9-11. Yes, it was an historic event and that is another reason we wanted to go. I don’t condone violence, but it certainly was not one of the most violent days in the history of this country or even in the last year.”

Staff writer Miles Layton can be reached at mlayton@ncweeklies.com