NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Snapshots taken by Tennesseans who attended the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington, D.C. depict a calmer reality that those shown of the violence at the Capital late Wednesday afternoon.
“There had been no indication that anything like that would happen,” said Cyndi Miller, who attended the event, but left before violence erupted. “At the rally, everyone was really upbeat. Everyone was positive. Everyone was hopeful, and we were just encouraging one another.”
The event was held in support of election integrity and Republican leaders, including President Donald Trump.
“The spirit was fantastic,” said Hattie Bryant, who also attended the event. “It was kind and sweet, and we were all so happy to be there.”
Miller and Bryant, who did not travel together, say the event was peaceful until the march toward the Capitol.
“Someone came running up the center of the road and they were shouting that the Capitol had been stormed,” said Miller. “And, they just kept repeating that.”
Both women describe the violence as unexpected, and certainly not something they planned to be a part of.
“You’ve got to understand… those of us on that street had no idea what happened,” said Bryant. “There were instigators. There were bad instigators. Whereas there were a million of us with a sweet spirit who only want good for our country.”
Miller and Bryant now say they feel hurt and misrepresented by the riot Wednesday.
“It breaks my heart. My heart is broken,” said Bryant. “…because it ruined all the goodness that we have built up around our beliefs for four years.”
“I’m frustrated,” Miller explained, “I’m disappointed that it took a turn in that manner. I don’t believe that it was anyone in our group honestly. I think that this was planned and we were infiltrated by others that had other ideas to reflect poorly on our event and on the Republican party.”
At least 200 people from Tennessee attended Wednesday’s rally. Both Miller and Bryant tell News 2 that they had only participated in the rally that happened before violence broke out at the U.S. Capitol.