Dayton area residents who traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in Wednesday’s rally-turned-riot said vandalism of the historic U.S. Capitol took things “way too far.”
Greg Dulin of Miamisburg said he and his wife, Rhonda, planned about a week ago to drive there “because of the election fraud.” Although they did not attend President Donald Trump’s scheduled “Save America” rally, the couple spent time socializing with others outside the Capitol building.
“Everybody’s hanging out, talking, being nice and everything and then this big mob came up from the street is basically what happened,” he said. “They just started pushing barriers over (and) just swamping the Capitol building.”
Dulin said he and his wife walked over to where local police were “because that’s actually where we felt safer” and spent the next several hours there, eventually taking the time to walk around the Capitol itself.
“They had walked in (and) walked right up through the front doors,” he said. “We were there for a peaceful protest rally, not no ‘kick-the-front-door-in’ type situation.”
Dulin, who said he attended a peaceful political rally in Dayton last year, wasn’t concerned for his own safety or that of his wife’s on Wednesday afternoon as people continued to wreak havoc both outside and inside the Capitol during the insurrection.
“They were focused mainly on destruction,” he said. “They were shooting pepper spray around and everything. We came up here to actually go to the rally, a peaceful rally, not just what happened yesterday, and get some shots of the stuff around D.C. … because I’ve never been over here before.”
Dulin said he and his wife never considered following the mob into the Capitol.
“That was way too far,” he said. “That shouldn’t have happened because that’s like breaking and entering.”
Rhonda Dulin said Wednesday was “a wonderful day” until the mob came toward the Capitol from where Trump was speaking.
“I think the more they walked, the madder they got about stuff,” she said. “People are just hurt and angry. I think we were just screwed over (by) the election.”
She said most of what she saw was “a good atmosphere” of music and prayer, so she was shocked at how quickly the situation escalated due to people she does not believe were “real Trump people.”
“I think they were just doing stuff to make us look bad,” Dulin said. “There was just too much good stuff going on until that point.”
Martha Chatterton of Dayton said she went to Washington, D.C., this week because she cares about the country.
“This was the third time I have went for that reason,” said Chatterton, who believes police actions incited the crowd to storm the building.
Chatterton posted a Facebook Live video at 2:46 p.m. Wednesday from the streets of Washington, D.C., following the melee, saying that “we did storm the Capitol.”
“The Capitol is now being run by (the) people,” Chatterton said.
She questioned why police would treat poorly the protesters just for shouting “USA! USA!”
“It’s time that they took back the Capitol and I’m glad they took it back and I hope that they sit in there for three or four days to get rid of the trash that was in there,” Chatterton said.
However, she said she drew the line at vandalism, telling this news outlet that the people who damaged the Capitol should “pay the price for that crime, whether in jail or fines.”
Aaron Carpenter told the Columbus Dispatch he arrived with his father at about 7 a.m. Wednesday on the Mall in Washington, D.C. The Marysville City Councilman, a “passionate Trump supporter,” was given VIP seats close to the front of the stage where Trump and others spoke, the newspaper reported.
Afterward, he and his father joined the march to the Capitol, which he recalled as peaceful, marred only by some carrying banners or signs with obscene messages against the Nov. 3 election and Biden’s victory.
“I got a sense of patriotism and love for the country, that people were there for the right reasons,” Carpenter told the Dispatch.
He said he left shortly after arriving at the Capitol, seeing no evidence of violence.
“For four years, our party has talked about law and order,” Carpenter said. “I think what happened yesterday, that’s patently unacceptable.”
Joshua Stueve is a Dayton native who graduated from Wayne High School in 1997 and today works as senior communications adviser and spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
On Thursday, there was a big security presence in Washington, D.C., he said.
“It’s pretty strong, as it should be,” Stueve said. “The (Justice) department is very well secured. We have a good amount of law enforcement professionals who are here, providing security to the building.”
Because of the pandemic, many of the workers who might normally work downtown are not there, he noted.
“That makes the law enforcement presence stick out even more,” Stueve added. “As you drive down the street, you see a lot of law enforcement vehicles, you see a lot of law enforcement officers on foot in full-on gear. So there’s a strong presence.”
Staff Writer Thomas Gnau contributed to this report.
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