Cleveland-area Republicans Respond To Insurrection Attempt On Capitol Hill

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. [Andrew Harnik / AP]

Local supporters of President Donald Trump say those who breached the U.S. Capitol this week in an effort to stop the affirmation by Congress of President-Elect Joe Biden's victory are being unfairly characterized by the media and others.

Ohioan James Layton’s sister and friends traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend a rally that President Trump addressed earlier Wednesday. The goal was not to overturn the 2020 election results, said Layton, a Libertarian. Those in attendance wanted their concerns about how the election was handled addressed, he said.

“They were there to get their questions answered and their doubts answered,” Layton said. “It’s been 90 days, more than three months since the election, and nobody’s explained to us.”

Lawsuits and court cases don’t provide a clear explanation to the general public, Layton said. Before Wednesday’s events, 60 courts had dismissed lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies claiming voting irregularities. The initial rally aimed to ensure their voices were heard, Layton said, but politicians failed to answer any of the concerns, instead labelling the rallies as an attack.

Lawmakers also failed to offer adequate respect for the woman who was fatally shot at the Capitol Wednesday, Layton said. Other deaths by police have received greater attention, he said, and it is an example of how those who gathered in Washington, D.C., to support the president are devalued.

“It just seems like their lives are being dismissed,” Layton said. “It seems as if, if they supported Trump or they support Trump’s agenda, their lives don’t matter.”

Layton doesn’t think Trump supporters were responsible for invading the Capitol. He claimed that left-wing instigators were to blame. There has been no evidence presented to prove that and lots of information that argues otherwise

A good number of Ohians were in Washington, D.C. as Free Ohio Now, an organization that disapproves of government-backed coronavirus restrictions, helped to facilitate a trip with a number of buses Wedenasday. A spokesperson for the group declined an interview request from ideastream.

“It is curious there is interest only after a day with many regrettable and tragic aspects,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “A day where many 100,000s of Americans, who are certain they have been disenfranchised, demonstrated outside the joint session of Congress, the last institution able to provide justice to the fraudulent November 3rd election.”

Cleveland Heights resident Robert Shwab did not make the trip. He said while the actions of those who stormed the Capitol were shocking and wrong, they make sense to him after the series of protests against police brutality this summer.

“We’ve had violent messages and violent images and violent protests for four years, at least, maybe since the inauguration,” Shwab said. “It was only a matter of time until the other side took that message further and responded.”

Politicians and local officials failed to condemn the actions of left-wing protestors, Shwab said. Some, he argued, tacitly endorsed them.

“You had politicians looking the other way at violence and violent protests and doing very little about it,” Shwab said. “People have not spoken up about it. They’ve turned their heads at these protests, or they sometimes justified it.”

Ohio lawmakers spoke out against Wednesday’s protests, issuing statements or tweets even as they sheltered in place, calling the actions of the mob at the Capitol “un-American” and telling them to return home. Some lawmakers are calling for Trump's removal after Wednesday's events, including Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown.

Trump also issued tweets calling for peace and cooperation with police Wednesday, although a number of his messages were removed from Twitter for “severe violations” of the site’s policies and his social media accounts were eventually locked down.

The call for protestors to peacefully return home was appropriate, Shwab said, although he isn’t sure whether the actions of those who entered the Capitol have been adequately condemned. Lawmakers’ full responses to the events can be evaluated later, Shwab said.

“I think that takes a little more analysis and thought,” Shwab said. “But in general, yes, the correct response is, ‘Go home.’”

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