Tri-State leaders take to social media, condemning chaos at Capitol Hill amid election certification

Posted at 4:37 PM, Jan 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-07 18:25:07-05

Elected officials across the Tri-State took to social media Wednesday afternoon, in large part to condemn the chaotic events that occurred on Capitol Hill as Congress worked to certify the results of November's presidential election.

Words like "embarrassment," "mayhem," "destructive," "treason," and "domestic terrorists" appeared in statements from city, state and congressional officials, the latter of whom were inside the Capitol building when a crowd of President Donald Trump's supporters broke through barricades and forced their way past Capitol police into the rotunda and eventually into the U.S. House and Senate chambers.

What began as a protest against Congress' expected move to certify President-elect Joe Biden's victory on Nov. 3 quickly escalated to violence as people in the crowd began shoving their way past law enforcement barricades. Ultimately, police deployed tear gas in the rotunda, and one person remained in critical condition Wednesday afternoon after being shot during the incident, according to multiple news outlets.

After confirming that he and his staff were safe, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, tweeted, "The violence at the Capitol needs to end now. The lives of countless workers - journalists, staff and Capitol Police are being put at risk by this attack on our democracy."

Brown's Republican counterpart, Sen. Rob Portman characterized the crowd's actions as "unacceptable vandalism and violence."

"The right to protest peacefully is protected under the Constitution but the actions by violent mobs against our law enforcement and property at the U.S. Capitol building today are not," he tweeted.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, called the situation "mayhem," saying, "Violence and mob rule is wrong and un-American, and it will not bring about election reform."

Notably, Paul's counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, had not issued a statement regarding the incident as of 5 p.m., but he didn't mince his words earlier before Congress retreated to recess, saying any move to overturn the results of November's election were "dangerous."

As for the Tri-State's representatives in the House, Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, called Wednesday's events "completely unacceptable."

Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy, expressed his faith in the Capitol Police force: "I want to thank the Capitol Police for its dedicated service and for keeping everyone -- from members to staff -- safe. I have every confidence that they will be able to handle this situation."

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, called the crowd that broke into the Capitol "criminals."

"This violence must stop," he tweeted. "The criminals who have broken into the U.S. Capitol, injured law enforcement, and disrupted the constitutional process are not patriots. No matter what flag one is carrying, people violating the law need to be held accountable."

Speaking to WCPO on Thursday, he went further and described the incident as domestic terrorism.

"It almost seems like, 'What, are these people on drugs?'" he said. "'Are they in their right mind to want to do this? ... Do they think this will give them some kind of result that will be different?'"

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Kentucky, tweeted that he was safe but didn't offer any follow-up commentary. On Thursday, he provided a more detailed description of the attack from his perspective: He and his staff sheltered in his office, where he keeps a gun, and barricaded the doors.

Members of Massie's party at the state level condemned Wednesday's events, characterizing the crowd as an "angry mob."

In Ohio, Republican Party Chair Jane Timken said in a written statement, "The riots taking place in our nation's capital do not reflect America as we know it. We are lucky to live in a country that allows its citizens freedom of thought, expression and speech, but today's lawlessness cannot be tolerated."

The Hamilton County GOP also weighed in, saying it "condemn(s) the criminal mobs fighting the police and doing damage in the Capitol."

Kentucky's Democratic governor, Andy Beshear, described the crowd as "domestic terrorists," making a point to reiterate the characterization multiple times.

"When you try to use force and intimidation to get what you want, to overthrow an election, to stop the business of Congress, yes, you are acting as a domestic terrorist," Beshear said in a video posted on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Ohio's Republican governor, Mike DeWine, called Wednesday's events an "embarrassment."

"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, in part, in a written statement. "As a nation of law, this is simply not acceptable... 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."

READ MORE: DeWine reflects on storming of Capitol Hill

DeWine's attorney general, Dave Yost, compared the incident to events surrounding a federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, last summer, during the height of the George Floyd protests.

"Those of us who called for prosecution of the people who stormed the federal courthouse in Portland must apply the same demand to those who stormed the Capitol today," Yost said in a statement. "The color of your skin or the slogan upon your banner must not change what is and is not acceptable."

On the local level, David DeVillers, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of Ohio, warned anyone who might have traveled from the region to the Capitol and engaged in any illegal activity.

"Make no mistake... Federal crimes were committed today at our nation's (Capitol) building," DeVillers tweeted. "Anyone who traveled from the Southern District of Ohio with the intent to commit such crimes will be prosecuted in the Southern District of Ohio."

Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval said the incident was "shameful."

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley's message was short and to-the-point:

Former Cincinnati City Councilwoman Amy Murray, who left her office last year to take a position in the Trump administration, posted on Facebook: "Thanks to family and friends for checking in on me today. I’m at (the) Pentagon – and staying on this side of the river."

Mason City Councilman TJ Honerlaw was in Washington Wednesday for Trump's rally as a private citizen, not in any official capacity. He told WCPO he had already returned to his hotel room by the time crowds began forcing their way into the Capitol.

He described the rally itself -- held by Trump leading up to Congress' 1 p.m. joint session -- as a generally wholesome event: "It was young and old. I saw really old, elderly people there. I saw people pushing strollers. I saw grade school kids. I saw dogs, people bringing dogs and animals."

He said he was shocked to learn of what had transpired after he left the crowds and that every Trump supporter he has met "loves the police and loves law and order."

"It's a tragic thing that happened. I mean, watching the news, a woman lost her life and seeing some of that stuff, I was like, 'Who are those people?'" he said. "What they did was wrong, and these people need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent. I don't care if it was Trump supporters or Antifa, anybody that does this type of stuff needs to be punished because it's just not the way you get things done."