Some Republican officials in the region have spoken out after violent riots in the United States Capitol last week, some sharing conspiracy theories about the events unfolding and defending protesters' claims about voter fraud and electoral theft, while others have condemned what happened as acts violence and domestic terrorism.
Phyllis Nelson, Republican chair of the Sprague Treasury Board, said last week that she was taking a bus to Washington to join the protests – to defend the constitution and speak out against electoral fraud – but did not set foot. the Capitol or on the steps of the building. Nelson said she left the Capitol at 3 p.m. and departed D.C. at 5:00 p.m., an hour before the city's curfew. Extremist groups stormed the Capitol at about 2:15 PM.
Claims of widespread electoral fraud have been consistently rejected by multiple courts, election officials – both Democratic and Republican – and law enforcement officials.
Nelson said she doesn't think pro-Trump Republicans meeting that day were the ones who "led charges" to break into the Capitol, but that the break-in was led by members of Antifa who were left on the property by the Capitol. . Law enforcement.
“The problem was not the patriots who went there simply to stand up for freedom and for the constitution, the problem was the ones who were called in to set up and cause problems,” she said. She said it was "very clear" and that there were "all kinds of videos" to prove that those people were being arrested by the anti-racist group Antifa.
No evidence has been provided by police or government officials of these claims.
The chairman, who is also a member of Sprague's Republican City Committee, said she went to D.C. with about 170 people from Connecticut. Two people from Groton have been arrested in connection with the riots.
She said she was motivated to go to D.C. to defend the constitution "because it's all under attack." In particular, she said that the 2nd Amendment is "nearly extinct" in the state of Connecticut and that the results of the presidential election were fraudulent. She said evidence of electoral fraud has been thrown out by the courts and the election is being stolen.
She said she did not think rioters should have broken open the doors to enter the Capitol building. She said she chose not to climb the steps of the Capitol, but understood why others did.
"They didn't break in because that's the outside of the building and it's the people's building. I know it's hard for people in Washington to understand that concept," she said.
Speaking of her general experience in Washington last Wednesday – a day that lawmakers across the country have condemned as violent, terrorist and treacherous – she said "it was truly beautiful."
“It was so beautiful to see so many people insisting on one thing: freedom, it was great,” she said. "They were people of every color, every culture, no shape or form is this a racist or hateful movement." Nelson said she left before the violence started.
"It's freedom for everyone, I want everyone to enjoy freedom, not just a particular group," said Nelson. "And that's how everyone I know feels about this movement."
Members of the crowd were seen wearing anti-Semitic clothing, including a sweatshirt that read "Camp Auschwitz" and allied flags.
Nelson said she was, and intends to remain, "a patriot no matter who the president is".
Senator Cathy Osten, D-Sprague, said Nelson's statements about Antifa were "just a lie."
"The conspiracy theories and downright false statements are only damaging our country," she said. In a statement released last week, she encouraged people to check information they share on social media and expand their social circles with different political views and opinions based on facts.
Michael Meadows, chairman of the Sprague Republican Town Committee, said in a statement that it would be inappropriate for him to comment on Nelson's comments on behalf of the committee because he had not seen the comments or had the opportunity to speak with Nelson .
& # 39; This is disgusting & # 39;
While other local Republicans, including Norwich Republican Town Committee Chairman Rob Dempsky, agreed with Nelson that the violence was the work of Antifa and not Trump supporters, others condemned the role Trump played.
East Lyme Republican Town Committee Chairman Lawrence Fitzgerald sent a statement to The Day on Monday saying that he and 14 other East Lyme Republicans who signed "strongly condemn the insurgents' actions, including the president's incendiary rhetoric. the United States."
“All who have taken part in illegal actions should be brought to justice quickly,” they wrote. "We support the peaceful and smooth transfer of power. This is what we have come to expect and have enjoyed throughout our celebrated history as the beacon of democracy."
Signatories include Senator Paul Formica, Representative Holly Cheeseman, First Selector Mark Nickerson and all three other Republican members of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Education members John Kleinhans and Jaime Barr Shelburn, Voter Clerk Mary Devine Smith, Tax Collector John McCulloch, and alternates on other committees as well as other RTC members.
Kleinhans tweeted Wednesday that Trump's recorded message is "even more outrageous. He keeps lying and stirring up emotions. This is disgusting."
The Republican statement said that our country's healing begins at home, and they "pray that this terrible event will bring us even closer together in a spirit of mutual respect, courtesy, humility, and affection so that the major challenges we face can are being solved".
In his own statement, Formica, who represents Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford and is the deputy Republican Senate leader, also spoke out against the violence in the Capitol.
"I strongly condemn the violent and destructive actions of those who stormed our Congress in Washington, D.C. today, in an attempt to disrupt our democracy in action," Formica said in a statement.
Formica compared the riots in Washington Wednesday morning with peaceful protests in Hartford.
As I was sworn in as your senator this morning, we were surrounded by protesters peacefully and respectfully exercising their rights to the First Amendment, as we all should be able to. What happened in Washington today was the opposite. We would never resort to nor condone violence as a means of expression. Those actions today in our country's capital are completely unacceptable, ”he said.
The senator also urged his fellow Republicans to accept the results of the election.
"The elections are over. The president has lost both at the polls and in the courts. It is time for us to move on peacefully," he said in a statement.
Senator Heather Somers, R-Groton, posted a statement on Twitter last week about the riots saying the riots were "shameful. Insidious. Sedition."
"This has to end. Now. I pray for our democracy – a democracy that has spoken. @POTUS has lost the elections. A peaceful transition is integral," Somers wrote.
Trump & # 39; crybaby loser & # 39;
In a January 6 Facebook post, John Scott, the Groton RTC chairman, wrote, "I am not convinced these people are Trump supporters. My money is in Antifa," alongside an image of a man the authorities have identified as Jacob Anthony Chansley. , or Jake Angeli from Arizona, a well-known member of the far-right conspiracy group Q-Anon standing in the US Senate Chamber.
Chansley was charged in federal court Saturday of knowingly entering or staying in a restricted building or property without legal authority, and of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, according to the United State Justice Department.
Scott said by phone Monday that he now knows it was Q-Anon, a right-wing group he doesn't support, involved in the riots and pictured in the photo he shared: “It was a fringe group that really has nothing to do with. us as Republicans, "he said, adding that he regrets that Republicans are being painted with a broad brush when it" happened on the fringes of the political world. "
"We don't approve of what happened in Washington," said Scott, who was not in Washington, D.C. "We would never approve of what happened at the Capitol in Washington."
Among his other posts, Scott said Trump has lost and “It is time to turn power over to those who have won.
Lauren Gauthier, vice chair of the Groton Republican Town Committee and a Groton RTM member, told The Day that she received a call on New Year's Day from a man who asked her if she was "Lauren Gauthier of the CT GOP". and called to see if she had heard of President Trump's call to oppose electoral fraud and put pressure on Congress not to certify the Electoral College's vote.
She was instantly angry, "telling him that Donald Trump was a" crybaby loser, "that his lies have destroyed American democracy and that anyone who goes there to disrupt Congress is a troublemaker and a traitor. She also shared her story on Facebook.
Dempsky, chairman of the Norwich Republican Town Committee, changed the image on his Facebook page in the early morning hours of January 6 to show an image of Trump who appears to be reaching forward to hand a mirror image of Trump. to shake. "Peaceful transition of power," states the caption below.
Dempsky, who did not go to D.C., said he condemned the violence, saying that anyone who "crossed the Capitol's threshold and crossed the security barriers should be prosecuted.
But Dempsky questions everything from the election of President-elect Joe Biden on Nov. 3 to the main culprits of the violence in the Capitol. On Saturday, Dempsky posted a video arguing that Trump's massive rallies over the years and months have all been peaceful, but Wednesday's violence "is reminiscent of a DIFFERENT group of protesters," Dempsky wrote.
"We have witnesses and video indicating that three bus loads from Antifa were being escorted to the Capitol by different police vehicles," Dempsky wrote in the post.
In a phone interview on Monday, Dempsky argued that the violent disruption of the Capitol came when Republicans in Congress objected to the certification of the electoral college votes, and it would not have helped Trump supporters to disrupt that process.
Dempsky also noted that at the Jan. 6 rally, many of the Trump supporters did not march to the Capitol and remained peaceful. He said the shutdown of conservative online platforms is now making it difficult to access the video evidence that Antifa and Black Lives Matters supporters had participated in the raid on the Capitol.
& # 39; Absolutely, there were Trump supporters who entered the Capitol, & # 39; said Dempsky, "and I tell them that any person who enters the Capitol should be arrested."
Staff writers Claire Bessette and Erica Moser contributed to this report.
. (tagsToTranslate) East Lyme CT (t) Groton CT (t) Sprague CT (t) National Elections (t) Donald Trump (t) Greater Norwich