Local leaders react to Capitol protests

MIAMI COUNTY — On Wednesday, the siege of the US Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters forced painful new questions across government — about his fitness to remain in office for two more weeks, the ability of the police to secure the complex and the future of the Republican Party in a post-Trump era.

The protesters ransacked the place, taking over the House and Senate chambers and waving Trump, American and Confederate flags. Outside, they scaled the walls and balconies in their breach of the building.

One protester, a white woman, was shot to death by Capitol Police, and there were dozens of arrests. Three other people died after “medical emergencies” related to the breach.

In the immediate aftermath, the attack on the world’s iconic dome of democracy, shocking imagery flashed around the globe, reinforced lawmakers’ resolve to stay up all night to finish counting the Electoral College vote confirming Democrat Joe Biden won the presidential election.

Local legislators and political leaders on Thursday shared their responses to the US Capitol protests.

Miami County Democratic Party Chairman Russ Wheeler

Wheeler said he was “sickened” by the events at the US Capitol on Wednesday.

“I was actually sickened by what I saw yesterday. It just seems those people were incited by our president and it’s a very sad situation that we are in. Thank goodness that votes counted in this election the way they should,” Wheeler said. “I feel what happened was an act of sedition and we need to do much better.”

Wheeler said following President-Elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, he hopes the change in leadership will “get some sanity back into our country and start healing.”

• Ohio Senator Dr. Steve Huffman (R-5th)

On Thursday, Huffman said, “The First Amendment protects the right to peacefully protest, which has been a powerful tool throughout our nation’s history. What occurred yesterday at the Capitol building was not a peaceful protest, put our fellow citizens and police officers in danger, and was very sad to witness.

“Violence is not and has never been an acceptable way to express oneself. As Americans, we need to work together and respect one another to best serve our great country.”

Ohio House of Representatives Jena Powell (R-80)

Powell posted the following comment on both her Twitter account (@votejenapowell) and on her Facebook page: “Violence is not the answer. What a sad day in America. God save our country.”

Powell’s district includes all of Miami County and southern Darke County.

• Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R)

Regarding Wednesday’s events, Gov. Mike DeWine issued a statement that said, “This is an embarrassment to our country. This must stop immediately. The president should call for the demonstrators to leave our Capitol building. The final step in the constitutional process of electing our president has been disrupted,” DeWine said. “The stopping of the count of the Electoral College votes has occurred because the security of the U.S. Capitol has been breached by a violent mob. As a nation of law, this is simply not acceptable. Lawlessness is not acceptable. This is an affront to our Constitution and everything we hold dear. Those who breached the Capitol breached the Constitution. Peaceful demonstrations outside the Capitol are an exercise of the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights. Stopping the constitutional process by which we elect the president is not.”

• U.S. Congressman Warren Davidson (R-OH)

Early Thursday morning, Representative Warren Davidson (R-OH) made the following statement regarding violence and unrest at the US Capitol during a joint session of Congress:

“There is no excuse for rioters’ actions yesterday, and their actions are rightly condemned. The Constitution protects peaceful protest, not riots or rioters.

“After ensuring that my staff in the D.C. office returned home safe, I returned to the business of the House, to join debate on election integrity in Arizona and Pennsylvania. I’m disappointed that senators withdrew principled objections, preventing further debate.

“In Congress, we fight with reasoned arguments and recorded votes. The debate remains essential to properly safeguard the hard-won principle that all citizens have equal protection. That is violated when elections fail by law or practice.

“I voted with my district, representing the concerns of Ohio’s 8th District residents. I objected to electors from Arizona and Pennsylvania, where numerous systemic issues threatened to undermine the equal protection principle of ‘one person, one vote.’ No debate was permitted on other states, so they were accepted without debate or recorded vote.”

Davidson was one of four Ohio U.S. Representatives that voted to reject Arizona’s election results and one of five to reject Pennsylvania’s presidential election results on Wednesday. Fellow Ohio House of Representative Republicans Jim Jordan, Bill Johnson and Bob Gibbs also voted to reject both Arizona and Pennsylvania’s results, with Steve Chabot joining in on the rejection of Pennsylvania’s vote.