As we pointed out in our column Why Was The Capitol Locked Down On Jan. 6?, the Capitol
and the House and Senate office buildings have often been the locus of large demonstrations or the endpoint of large marches. Most recently, there were mass demonstrations during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearings – indeed the Hart Senate Office Building atrium was “occupied” by anti-Kavanaugh “demonstrators,” but the Capitol, and the rest of the Capitol complex, including the hearing room, remained open.
Yet, on what was arguably one of the most consequential joint sessions of Congress in the modern era, the House visitors gallery was closed and the Capitol was supposedly locked down – all without warning to the hundreds of thousands of Trump supporters who came to Washington to show their support for President Trump and to witness the final act of the constitutional process of choosing the next President.
So, it is fair to ask, what were congressional leaders so afraid of?
After all, through the First Amendment the government specifically acknowledges that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Indeed, most of the people who have gone on record about why they went to Washington for the January 6 Trump rally and why they marched to the Capitol expressed exactly the kind of “grievances” the Framers of the Constitution intended to protect when they added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
Several who traveled to Washington to support the “Stop the Steal” rally told The Washington Post they were driven by two primary grievances: their opposition to the election results and the restrictions in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Lindsey Graham, a 39-year-old entrepreneur from Salem, Ore., told the Washington Post her eventual path to the Capitol began last spring, when the six small businesses she and her husband own, including tanning salons, a gym and hair salon, were suddenly shuttered because of coronavirus restrictions. Graham said she voted for Trump in 2016 but did not become politically active until her family was financially struggling last year.
She defied state orders and reopened her salon in May, racking up thousands of dollars in fines for violations. Since then, the mother of three has posted online under the moniker “Patriot Barbie,” frequently railing against mask mandates and selling trucker hats, red lip glitter and American flag earrings on her personal website.
Glynnda White, a 58-year-old retired local government worker and Army veteran from Winter Haven, Fla., said she had no regrets about making the trip to the January 6 rally.
“We were invited by the president” to Washington, said White, who says she stood outside the Capitol but did not enter the building. “And we went.”
Joe Keim, a former Amish man from Ashland, Ohio joined tens of thousands of others in Washington D.C. for President Donald Trump’s “Save America Rally.” As he watched from the crowd, he didn’t immediately realize the full extent of what was happening at the Capitol.
Keim said he hadn’t visited Washington D.C. with intentions to storm the Capitol building. He hadn’t even come in protest of the election results. He came to attend the rally and demonstrate his loyalty to Trump, who he believes would have been the best fit to serve as president for the next four years.
When he and his son learned of the curfew imposed by Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser they left.
“We are on our way home, safe and thanking God for His protection. I am truly humbled by everyone’s support and prayer for us,” Keim said in a Facebook post.
Mr. Keim told the Richland Source, “Honestly, I’m not sure what I’m feeling right now. My goal in life is to stay focused on the positives, which was easy most of the day. The people were fun and in good spirit. The speeches were encouraging. We hoped and prayed that God would allow us to experience a last-hour miracle.”
It seems to us that when those who govern fear those whom they govern to such an extent that they lock themselves behind barriers and phalanxes of armed police, and refuse to allow the governed access to their deliberations or to meet with them to accept their petitions for the redress of their grievances, that we have then entered territory last charted here in 1776 and the lead-up to the American Revolution. That was not a good place to be for a monarchy in 1776 and it is an even worse place for a republic to be in 2021.
U.S. Capitol Building
Trump twitter account