WASHINGTON (WJHL) – People have been planning on going to the Capitol to protest election results since they were called back in November. One group from Elizabethton left at 5 a.m. Tuesday morning just to be sure they could have a spot outside for Wednesday’s confirmation.
“After President Trump spoke, the group moved from the Washington Monument area and in front of the White House toward the Capitol with the idea that they would present the Capitol [with] a show of support,” said Elizabethton physician Dr. Arnold Hopland.
He decided to go with others to Washington in a show of support for transparency in the election process and in protest of court decisions not to investigate claims of election fraud.
What unfolded throughout the afternoon took him and others in the group by surprise.
“[Protestors] broke through the doors by smashing some windows and climbing through the windows and opening the doors. At that point the crowd as a whole kind of cheered,” Hopland said.
Hopland said no one in his group had intentions of entering the Capitol building.
“It was just a small group that entered the Capitol, however, and I suspected there was a group of folks who came with violence in mind because they clearly were prepared for it. Some of them were wearing helmets,” said Hopland. “The violence has destroyed the whole purpose of it. The purpose of it is to bring attention to what I think were rampantly and fraudulent election practices in many places.”
Despite the violence, the group’s organizer says he is not apologizing for being in Washington, D.C. for what he called a “historical moment.”
“I don’t know that I would call it violence but from what I saw, the police there, the security were throwing a lot of flash bomb stuff, you know mace…that stuff at us patriots, stuff like that and I believe that there the one’s that started it,” said Carter County business owner William Grant. “[Police were] gassing the American patriots that were there to support the President.”
Grant calls himself a “patriot” fighting for conservative values.
“I am not ashamed of what the patriots did today. I am not ashamed to be here. I’m proud to be here,” Grant said. “I don’t want nobody hurt, I don’t want anybody shot or anything like that but it’s disappointing how things have turned out with this election. We believe Trump’s won it. He won it fair and square. I believe the left has cheated their way in there and caused so much chaos to where everything is just a big ole mess.”
Over the summer of 2020, he organized counter protests to Black Lives Matter protests in the area.
“To see what the left has done — the Democratic party — they’re going to take our rights, a lot of them away. We’re going to be looking at socialism and communism and all that. America is the last hope for this world,” Grant said. “What the BLM did and all that, that’s a product of what we have today. That’s why we’re in this mess. They were a part of it.”
Some believe President Trump played a role in what happened.
“The only responsibility that Trump had — he asked us to come. We came. We came with great numbers to support him because we know that he was cheated out of this election,” said Grant. “I don’t condone violence or anything like that but it is what it is…and I’m proud to be here and I’m proud to be here with every patriot that’s shown up to support Trump.”
News Channel 11 has not been made aware if anyone from the Tri-Cities was a part of the violence and mayhem. Everyone in the group from Elizabethton was safe and accounted for Wednesday night as they left just after chaos broke out.