Last week, a mob of violent protestors swept past police and swarmed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington as members of congress tried to certify presidential electors.
The images broadcast live to millions of Americans last Wednesday afternoon were chaotic and frightening. Many in this country are still reeling from the event.
“The scene that unfolded at the United States Capitol [Wednesday] is absolutely reprehensible,” U.S. Representative John Carter said in a statement following the attack. “Those that committed those cowardly acts of violence do not represent the values of the Republican Party, and I condemn them in the strongest terms.”
The day before the riot, Carter affirmed that he intended to be one of the 147 Republican members of the Congress to object to certifying electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
During the attack, Carter posted to Twitter that, “Peacefully protesting is a Constitutionally protected right. Violence is not and will not be tolerated. Those responsible for any violent acts or trespassing should be held accountable immediately. Let this process unfold as the Constitution requires.”
As he said he would, after Capitol policed regained control of the building and members of congress returned, Carter was among 16 members of the Texas delegation to object the certification of those electors.
“Objecting to the electoral college certification was never about overturning an election,” he said. “It was an opportunity to respectfully debate and air the grievances of millions of Americans as outlined by the United States Constitution.”
Shortly after the attacks, local leaders also weighed in on the events.
“[It] was one of the most sickening and saddest days in our nation’s history,” said Cedar Park Mayor Corbin Van Arsdale on his social media page. “I can’t believe this ridiculous recklessness from some of our fellow citizens and political leaders—disrespecting our institutions and law enforcement to a degree we’ve never seen, all while the rest of the world and our children are watching.”
He said Cedar Park Council members have been “opposing this type of divisive, incitefull rhetoric and behavior” at the local level for years.
“We are much more united today as a nation than we were just 24 hours ago,” he said on Facebook. “So let’s take advantage of the golden opportunity that [Wednesday’s] events have given us: let’s choose to reject violence and hate, support our Constitution and a peaceful transition, and get on with the business of our government focusing on the work it’s designed to do. Great things are ahead for us if we do,”
“It’s a national disgrace,” said Cedar Park council member Mel Kirkland. “What scares me is that there is a whole subculture of [hate] media that has convinced these people that the sky is falling. They have to have someone to blame their problems on.”
“Protecting our democracy is vital,” said Texas State Rep. John Bucy (D-Austin). Bucy represents Cedar Park and Leander at the state legislature. “We run campaigns and sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose. When we lose, we gear up to work through the democratic process to fight again another day. Peaceful protest is one thing and should always be protected, violence and intimidation are another. Attempts to subvert our democracy are never acceptable and every American must unequivocally speak out and take action against this.”
“This is anarchy, pure and simple,” said Kim Collins Gilby on her Facebook page the evening of the attack. Gilby chairs the Williamson County Democratic Party. “I’m disgusted and heartbroken at the same time. I truly hope we can survive 14 more days of Trump’s failed leadership.”
Few Republicans posted their response to social media, though the Williamson County Republican Party’s page did feature posts of people who planned to attend the Washington DC event.
“We’re better than this!” former WilCo Sheriff Robert Chody said on his personal Facebook page.”Peaceful protests are a part of our democracy. Once the protest isn’t peaceful it’s unlawful. No matter what party affiliation you align with this was wrong.”
As the week folded into the weekend and the new week dawned, calls for the president to resign grew louder and warnings from law enforcement of armed protests at every state capital, beginning as early as this Saturday, became more urgent.
By Monday, the U.S. House had drafted articles of impeachment but it was uncertain if the body could get a conviction and even less certain that the U.S. Senate would vote to convict with so few days remaining in the president’s administration.