by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 29, 2021) — [Editor’s Note: The following is a continuation of an interview The Post & Email conducted on January 16 with two women who attended the January 6 “Save America” rally in Washington, DC at which then-President Trump gave an address in which he alleged massive fraud during the November 3, 2020 presidential election resulting in a victory for Democrat Joe Biden.
Trump was later blamed, and impeached a second time by the U.S. House of Representatives, for allegedly inciting the violence which took place at the U.S. Capitol that afternoon approximately 1 1/2 miles away. While investigations are ongoing, it was known early on that Trump supporter and unarmed Air Force veteran Ashli Babbitt lost her life after entering the Capitol as the result of a gunshot fired by a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
On February 13, just over one year after the hearings on Trump’s first impeachment concluded in acquittal, he was again acquitted in the U.S. Senate, as votes in favor of conviction fell short of the constitutionally-mandated two-thirds.
The two interviewees hail from different states and were not together the entire time on January 6. Both described a peaceful event consisting of tens of thousands of Trump supporters, and possibly as many as a million or more. During the rally, the women said, it was understood that those who were physically able would walk over to the Capitol afterward to voice their discontent with the results of the election which Congress was scheduled to certify or question that day during its joint session.
As objections from some members of Congress to the reported Electoral vote count were aired just after 1:00 p.m. EST, the session was abruptly halted due to the incursion attributed to a “mob” of Trump supporters participating in a “riot” or “insurrection.” However, within days of the incident the FBI admitted it had information in advance that certain individuals were planning an attack on the Capitol on January 6.
The FBI has additionally reported that a number of pipe bombs were placed in nearby locations on January 5. A “Stop the Steal” rally held that day in advance of Trump’s anticipated appearance on January 6 was peaceful.
A list of those charged and with which crimes as of March 26 is here.
At a rally in Georgia on January 4, Trump had promised evidence of election fraud would be presented during the joint session two days later, a plan apparently jettisoned as a result of the intrusion. Later that evening, Congress reconvened, during which objections were scuttled and Biden declared the winner in the early-morning hours of January 7.
Just prior to the incident, then-Vice President Mike Pence issued a letter claiming that as the official over the joint session, he lacked the constitutional authority to question the states’ Electoral vote returns while at the same time contending he believed “voting irregularities” had taken place.
Our second interviewee’s observations follow.]
Honestly, we really didn’t witness any violence at all; the only place that got at all dicey was really long lines for porta-potties because there were only five of them. I heard there were some over on the other side. That was the mayor’s doing more than anybody else’s. She was not at all friendly toward people coming in, shutting down all the restaurants. But everybody was very polite.
In my life, I’ve gone to Washington for peaceful protests many times for many different events in my younger days with my husband; now I’m a widow. I’ve gone to Washington all by myself, taking the train in. I am the epitome of a peaceful protester. I walk in, I walk around; I’m happy to talk to total strangers. Fox News wanted to interview me; I said, “No.” I wanted to get our fiends to interview because they’re better-spoken than I am and much more up on their facts and figures than I am; I’m terrible at recall of names. I get a little more jumbled on camera. I walk around, I talk to people, I’m very friendly; we were very polite to the policemen; they were very friendly. There was a lot of flag-waving, talking to strangers, and we were all very polite to each other.
The president spoke – it got a little tight in the crowd and I moved back because I don’t like to be that tight in a crowd; I was all by myself at that point. Everybody knew we were heading over to the Capitol long before the president ever spoke, so it wasn’t as if he said, “OK, troops…”
“How did you get the information that after the rally you were going to walk over to the Capitol without President Trump having said it?” The Post & Email inquired.
It was said, and then I read somewhere else that they knew about it a day in advance. The police knew about it; it was well-known around. It was just said around by people: “Yeah, we’re all going to go over there.” The president didn’t say anything that was inciteful of hatred or …”We’re going to peacefully stand…” As far as I understood, we were going to go and stand outside the Capitol and let them see that, “Hey, there’s like a million people here saying we’re not happy with the way this went.” That’s all.
After we had finished there and XXX and XXX had gone back to the hotel, XXX’s brother was with me and they still had their things by the grounds where they were by the tree, and so we were just picking things up. This is who I am whenever I’m in the capital. I’m not happy with the vendors who leave litter around, so I started picking up litter. If we come to a city, we should leave it cleaner than when we got there. XXX laughed at me and I said, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” So that’s why I am literally the epitome of a peaceful protester, because we weren’t protesting; it was a rally, not a protest.
XXX had called XXX; she was going to meet us back there, and I didn’t want us to carry that stuff up to the Capitol because we had those signs that you would stick in the ground, like campaign signs, and some of those pieces could look like a weapon, so I said, “No , we should carry these back to the hotel.” So we carried them back to the hotel, and then we walked to the Capitol. We could see police were gathering, which made sense. There should be police presence. There were no bullhorns or yelling or anything like that, but we did expect that there might be BLM or Antifa; I expected that when I had been in DC for the National Prayer Rally all by myself. You’re wary when you’re in a town that you don’t know.
It was a pretty long walk from our hotel to the Capitol. Again, we were walking and talking to people. Now, mind you, all of the vendors were out; the homeless people were out; the people who want to talk to you are out; nobody was afraid. Think of how this is compared to, say, other times around the country last year when people were getting beaten up and mugged for their water bottle; you had news media who were getting chased down the street. This time you had people with very expensive recording equipment, and nobody was getting ripped off for it.
At that point, none of us were planning to stay, as it was starting to get dark. We walked in and we were talking to people. I know when I go to Washington, I don’t like to give money to homeless people, but I try to bring things like McDonald’s gift cards so I can bless people. This is who I am. I have no fear in walking up to people, and that’s just me.
When I was in the rally, I talked to some great people from Florida; I spent a long time talking to a lot of different people about why they were there. When we were at the Capitol and we were walking up the stairs, I said to the group, “There might be tear gas deployed,” and I knew that might be a problem for me and my asthma. So I had my inhaler, and they started to go higher. I stayed below the great big flag that was there. And I thought, “This is my comfort level, so I’ll stay here.”
I listened to some other people talking, and one guy started talking about QAnon, and I thought, “I don’t really want to talk about that,” so I walked off. I walked over to another area, and some guy was sitting there. There were chairs out, and he had his feet up on them, and I said, “Excuse me; may I sit down?” and he just picked up his feet, brushed it off, and gave me a seat.
There were a lot of people out there, particularly Asians, asking if we could sign against the CCP (Chinese Communist Party). There were tons of people saying, “Jesus saves” trying to help people to come to Christ. None of the video that you see shows the fanning of the crowd. At one point, when I was sitting there and the gentleman gave me a seat, there was a wall there and a man on the other side was saying, “We need to take back our country,” and the guy who was sitting with me said, “No, I don’t think so.”
“Was he suggesting people should go up the steps to the Capitol?” The Post & Email asked.
Well, maybe he was saying, “We should go do this; we should do that…” I didn’t hear him suggest anything violent but maybe try to rev up the crowd a bit. I think by the time we got there, the heading-in had already happened. I did hear someone say, “Well, how did you get in?” and the other person said, “We just walked in; it’s our house.”
I will tell you, in times previous, when my husband and I were there to protest – I think it was Obamacare – we had gone right in. You go in and try to get in to see your congressman or whoever…
“They let you in then?”
Yes. You try to go in to their offices to talk to them. You would go around to the different congressmen’s offices. I remember it didn’t seem as if we shouldn’t have been able to do that. I can understand where some people said, “Well, sure, why shouldn’t we have been able to walk in?” But if a policeman had said, “No, ma’am, no further than this,” I would never have pushed beyond that point, because I respect law and order.
I think the vast, vast, vast majority of people there – do the math – let’ say there were half a million people there, and I don’t know how many got into the building – let’s say it’s 200, so what percentage got into the building?
I didn’t even get the text blast that there was a curfew until 7:30 that night. We didn’t even know that some of this stuff had gone on until we turned on the news in the hotel, honestly. That was interesting. The other thing, and I’m going to say this unequivocally — I do not condone violence from either side; I never have — but I really find it extremely disingenuous when the other party has been asked, all along throughout the whole year, “Will you condemn the violence?” and they wouldn’t answer, or they specifically said, “Isn’t this what democracy is?” and “Whoever said protests were supposed to be peaceful?” I don’t know, the Constitution? That’s just me answering that.
It’s ridiculous. We didn’t hear any of it on the news. Last year they called it “mostly peaceful” protesting and you could see the fires in the background; but they’ve gone on and on and on about this; and I don’t condone it; it is wrong. But we don’t know anything yet. I was there; there was no call for any kind of violence. Our president specifically said, “peaceful.”
Before the election I had spoken to some friends of mine who are Democrats, and I said, “I hope my candidate wins, but if he does not, I will go to work tomorrow morning because I won’t need a safe space; I am not a snowflake. But the truth is, if my candidate wins, there will be violence,” and this person agreed and said, “Oh, yes; there will be all kinds of craziness and riots.” I said, “That’s wrong,” and he agreed and said, “I don’t condone violence, either; it’s wrong on either side.” The truth is, you need to support the office whether you agree with the candidate or not. I’m old enough and that person is old enough that we’ve had candidates we didn’t like, but to say, “I don’t like this candidate so they’re not my president” – I wouldn’t do that. I may disagree with their policies; I may not like them, but as a Christian I will pray for them. Those are my feelings on the matter. But I would never burn down a building; I wouldn’t even write on a building. My father always said, “If you want to write on a building, it better be your own building. Then you have a right to.”
It’s just morally wrong to be doing these things. But to say, “Oh, well, these people need to get their feelings out,” well, you have a good portion of the country who really feels their vote didn’t count, who really feel that we ought to be showing ID in order to cast a ballot; who really feel that something hinky went on with this election — this is a problem. They want to be heard and you keep telling them, “Oh, just shut up and go away.” But at the same time, on the other side, there’s real knowledge of real corruption that went on with the Bidens, and the FBI had the laptop for a year and nobody looked at it. And how do we elect a president who never had to give any in-depth interviews at all? Is there no journalistic integrity? This is a problem for me; how do we have a media when 90% of it is owned by six corporations? This is a monopoly and an international problem.