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Local residents spoken to concerning Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol denounced the incident but otherwise offered different takes on the event.

Rioters, many wearing Trump shirts and/or displaying pro-Trump flags, breached the capitol as Vice President Mike Pence oversaw a joint session of Congress to certify the results of the Electoral College and affirm Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s victory in November’s presidential election. The breach occurred shortly after each chamber of Congress had begun separate debates on a proposed objection to accepting the certified results of the slate of electors from Arizona, proposals raised by U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Arizona, and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas. The joint session resumed later Wednesday night, after rioters had been dispersed from the Capitol at which time the proposal to object to the Arizona results failed as did subsequent objections to the Pennsylvania vote. Congress, at 3:41 a.m. Thursday morning, confirmed the Electoral College vote and declared Biden as the next president.

“It’s a sad situation,” former Johnson County Republican Chairman Henry Teich said. “I prayed the night before and that morning because you could just feel that the tension has been building in our country. But this is uncharted territory for us. We haven’t seen this since the British burned down the White House in 1812. But no, I condemn it all. I want to see my country strive and prosper.”

Although saddened by Wednesday’s events, Teich said he’s not surprised given the number of protests, riots and demonstrations staged throughout 2020  many of which sprang from accusations of police brutality and racism while others were political in nature.

The failure of Congress, Democrats in particular, to look into alleged instances of voter fraud in the November election also left many Trump supporters crying out and frustrated, Teich said.

“Feeling like they couldn’t get redress through normal channels so some people took what was left, but it’s a sad situation,” Teich said.

Johnson County Democratic Party Chairwoman Linda Brown also condemned the rioters but laid much of the blame at Trump’s feet.

“Unfortunately, this has been a long time coming with Trump behaving the way he does and his constant inciting of people,” Brown said. “Most of his followers there yesterday were pretty radical people anyway with the white supremacists and all.”

Brown said she has no idea when asks what she thinks the days leading up to Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20 hold.

“I believe all of this mess Wednesday did nothing other than delay for a few hours the attempts by some in Congress to get votes thrown out,” Brown said. “But in the end Biden is still going to be sworn in on Jan. 20. 

“But, these are dangerous times. These people aren’t going to go away, not completely. Especially if Trump keeps riling them up with his fake conspiracy theories. If he does try to calm them down it will begin to fade some. Either way, this is all of his making.”

Cleburne Republican Elizabeth Victory disagreed.

“I don’t think President Trump encouraged those people’s actions,” Victory said. “And he can’t control the actions of others. I’m glad the [Trump supporters] showed their presence but think it’s unfortunate things got out of hand. Then again, there were some from the other side who went there to cause trouble too.

Victory said it’s disingenuous for Democrats to raise objections given that they failed to the violence and vandalism exhibited during protests and riots across the country throughout last summer.

Victory also contended that concerns of possible voter fraud in November’s election are legitimate.

“At this moment evil appears to have triumphed,” Victory said. “It’s important to remember that similar situations have occurred throughout history and that such appearances are always temporary. What the results of November’s election reveal is that there’s a whole lot of bad stuff that certain people want to cover up and they will go to any length, including persecuting President Trump, to do so.

“My hope is that when those people stand before God he will be merciful with them. Because this is a serious, serious treachery.”

Cleburne Democrat Jim Garvin characterized Wednesday as a tragedy for America but for reasons other than those cited by Victory.

“We’ve got to get our country under control,” Garvin said. “The FBI should’ve arrested Trump, [Former New York City Mayor and Trump legal team member] Rudy Giuliani and Trump’s son yesterday for inciting those people. [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell, Pence, and [U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R—North Carolina] gave wonderful speeches lately but it was too little too late. Republicans should have stood up to Trump long ago like when [former U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater] told Nixon that enough was enough and it was time to get his [expletive deleted] out of town.”

Tragic as Wednesday was, Garvin said things could easily have been worse.

“The way Trump has incited people throughout his presidency, letting things grow and grow like insisting the election was fraudulent but offering no proof, I expected something like this would happen,” Garvin said. “But, to be honest, I thought it might be worse. I thought it might be like Jim Jones leading his followers to Guyana to drink the Kool-Aid cause of the way they follow him like a cult leader. The best thing everyone with those Trump flags and red hats could do now is throw them in a pile and burn them.”

Garvin dismissed claims of widespread voter fraud.

“I don’t know what the Republican’s beef is, or why they think we need an audit,” Garvin said. “Sixty some courts have looked at this and found no signs of impropriety. Georgia has counted their votes three times and found nothing. What else do they need?”

Garvin said he’s not sure what to expect between now and Jan. 20 but fears it’s a case of waiting for the other shoe to drop.

“I hope not, but I’m afraid these next few days could be disastrous,” Garvin said. “Someone should be posted by Trump’s bed while he sleeps to make sure he doesn’t get up to something. He’s too dangerous to be trusted.”

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