Shared from the 1/7/2021 Daily American eEdition

Capitol seized

About 100 Somerset County residents attend D.C. protests


AP photo

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, in Washington.


Submitted photo

Trump supporters in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.


Submitted photo

The group of Somerset County residents who attended protests in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to protest the presidential election results.


Submitted photo

Somerset County Republican Party Chairman Guy Berkebile at the top of the stairs at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Somerset County Republican Party Chairman Guy Berkebile gave a report from Washington, D.C., Wednesday through sporadic cellphone service and amid shouts from protesters in the background.

“We marched from the Trump speech to the Capitol building. We made it all the way to the Capitol building,” he said.

Berkebile was with about 100 county residents who traveled to Washington on buses to take part in protests against what they consider to be fraudulent presidential election results in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor. At the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, the Congress was set to debate and certify the results confirming Biden as the president-elect.

But thousands of protesters halted the proceedings by storming the Capitol, causing the building to be evacuated.

Trump, in a tweet during the rally, condemned violence. Some of the protesters were videotaped busting windows and entering the facility. Later, he asked the protesters via video to go home so peace could return to the city. He maintained that the election was “stolen.”

Berkebile sent a video to the Daily American showing footage of protesters “Storming doors of Capitol.”

“I don’t see guns among the patriots,” Berkebile said, noting that police were using batons and gas to keep people at bay as they neared the Capitol.

The owner of Guy Chemical in Somerset has been a strong Trump supporter who has met with the president and has been invited to the White House in the past.

“Everything is peaceful on our end,” he said of his observations on Wednesday.

Earlier in the day Trump addressed his supporters nearby in Washington.

Trump said that he would “never concede” and urged the massive crowd to march to the Capitol where hundreds had already gathered under tight security, according to the Associated Press.

“We will never give up,” Trump said around noon.

The city’s mayor issued a 6 p.m. curfew as the protests continued. The display has been condemned by many, including Republicans.

“This is an absolute fiasco,” Republican Sen. Pat Toomey, who represents Pennsylvania, said in a statement. He was one of the lawmakers forced to evacuate. “I appreciate the work of the United States Capitol Police under difficult circumstances. I am currently safe as are the few members of my staff that are currently at the Capitol complex.”

U.S. Rep. John Joyce, a Republican who represents Somerset County, expressed concern about the situation.

“Our nation was founded on the resolute principles of freedom of speech and peaceful demonstration. Violent protest is always unacceptable. Like so many Americans, I am deeply saddened by the unlawful attacks on the U.S. Capitol, the People’s House. God bless the brave U.S. Capitol Police and law enforcement.”

Locally, Republican State Rep. Matthew Dowling, who represents parts of Somerset County, also denounced the protests.

“Americans have the right to protest — peacefully,” he said. “This is a right I have defended for all citizens. What is happening in Washington, D.C., right now is no longer peaceful and — like any protest that uses violence — only hurts the cause of those causing that violence. This must stop and our democratic process must be protected.”

Berkebile said that he and the others who traveled to Washington feel that the presidential election was stolen in November.

“We are taking back our country,” he said. Berkebile added that the Somerset residents planned to return home Wednesday evening.

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