JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — When the first day of the legislative session got underway Wednesday, any disruption of normal proceedings was expected to be due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, lawmakers pivoted, canceling planned press conferences, to address the rioting in Washington, D.C.
As Congress convened in the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to count the 2020 presidential vote, protestors descended, breaking through police barricades and storming the building. Vice President Mike Pence (who was presiding over the certification), members of Congress, reporters, and staff were evacuated from the premises.
One person was reportedly shot inside the Capitol during the rioting.
“It’s domestic terrorism — might as well call it what it is,” Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden said. “I think the folks that are using this method to try and prove a point are doing way more damage than they could even comprehend. … We’ve been divided for so long, and everybody is to blame for completely different reasons.”
“I hope those folks get arrested, I hope they get thrown in prison, and hopefully we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” he said. “Everybody’s to blame. We’ve all screwed this up, and it’s going to be up to us to figure out how to fix it.”
Rowden addressed the protests during a planned press conference after the first day of the legislative session adjourned in the upper chamber. President Pro Tem Dave Schatz and Rowden held their planned press conference to discuss the legislative session; Senate Democrats canceled their media availability, citing the “domestic terrorists.”
“Domestic terrorists are waving Trump flags and storming the U.S. Capitol in an act of modern treason against the United States of America,” Democratic Leader John Rizzo said in a statement given to reporters. “I am calling on all Republican officeholders in Missouri to denounce this terrorism and this inflammatory rhetoric spewed from the President of the United States that has led to this moment.”
Gov. Mike Parson said he hadn’t been closely monitoring the unfolding events in the nation’s capital but stressed his proclivity for “law and order.”
House Republican leadership also canceled a planned press conference. In a joint statement, they said: “The violence and destruction that occurred today in our nation’s capital is unacceptable. Peaceful protests are an important part of free speech, but violence can never be tolerated.”
In her own statement, House Minority Leader Crystal Quade decried the “armed insurrection currently taking place in our nation’s capital” as an “affront to democracy and everything America represents.”
“Although today’s events are shocking, they, unfortunately, aren’t surprising and are the inevitable outcome of months of Republican leaders — including many in Missouri — pushing the lie of a Trump victory and attempting to overturn a legitimate election,” Quade said.
Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur blamed U.S. Senator Josh Hawley, a vocal opponent of certifying Joe Biden as the next president, for the violence in D.C. In a tweet, she said the junior Republican senator “disgraced himself and disregarded our Constitution” and called on him to resign.
This violence is on Josh Hawley’s shoulders. He chose incitement and grandstanding over this country. He disgraced himself and disregarded our Constitution. He should resign—as should Donald Trump.
— Lauren Arthur (@LaurenArthurMO) January 6, 2021
Hawley issued a short statement Wednesday calling for an end to violence and prosecution of anyone who attacked law enforcement officials or broke the law.
Several dozen people gathered in front of Missouri’s Capitol earlier Wednesday in support of President Donald Trump and Hawley. The gathering, which included speeches from state representatives, was peaceful and no arrests were made, public safety officials said.
Only a handful of protesters came inside the Missouri Capitol to walk the halls during session — again, in a peaceful fashion.
At the time of this reporting, rioting was still occurring in Washington, D.C.
Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.