WATERTOWN — Unsettled eyes from around the world, across the nation and in the north country watched Wednesday, as the U.S. Capitol was mobbed by the president’s supporters.
“Nothing short of tragic,” this week’s culmination at the Capitol has distressed, appalled and saddened state and local lawmakers.
With public officials nationwide, state Assembly Minority Leader William A. Barclay, R-Pulaski, initially responded to the violence on Twitter.
At 4:17 p.m. Wednesday, he wrote: “The situation unfolding in Washington D.C. is nothing short of tragic. What we’ve witnessed today has no place in our country & should be condemned by anyone who considers themselves a true American. As a nation, we are better than this — and we need to show it immediately.”
Later in the evening on the Capital Region channel of Spectrum News, the assemblyman said he hopes President Donald J. Trump would publicly say “this type of behavior is unacceptable, it’s not American, it’s not a Republican or Democratic value,” after declining to blame the violence on the president’s rhetoric.
About seven minutes in to his speech at Wednesday morning’s “Save America” rally near the White House, the president referenced the convened Congress working to certify the 2020 presidential election results. Mr. Trump told the crowd: “We will not let them silence your voices. We’re not going to let it happen.” The president’s supporters repeatedly cried, “Fight for Trump.”
Later in his speech, Mr. Trump called for his supporters to walk to the Capitol and give Republicans in Congress — “the weak ones” — “the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chairman Scott A. Gray said the president “in no way should have condoned such activities, whether direct or implied.”
“There was an implied message in there yesterday,” he said. “I can appreciate people supporting any candidate for office and being excited or energized. This is not the way to go about it.”
State Assemblyman Mark C. Walczyk, R-Watertown, and state Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-Rome, both used forms of the word “condemn” in public responses to the pro-Trump violence that left five people dead. A pro-Trump California woman was fatally shot by Capitol Police inside the breached building near the House chamber, according to police.
Mr. Trump asked the mob of “very special” people to “go home” in a now deleted video message posted to Twitter Wednesday. He did not publicly condemn the Capitol riot until Thursday night, in a video posted to his Twitter account.
Nancy K. Martin, chair of the St. Lawrence County Republican Committee, said she is “saddened and dismayed” by Wednesday’s violent group, which, she added, should not detract from the “position of hundreds of others who wished to peacefully assemble.”
“We don’t condone the violence. Period,” Mrs. Martin said. “But we must remember yesterday. Thousands of Americans did peacefully protest yesterday.”
Though she does not defend the storming and destruction of the 228-year-old building, injuries and fatalities, Mrs. Martin said the Republican Party is one, united party.
“We represent, I represent, all Republicans,” she said.
Thousands started to gather in Washington on Tuesday, praising the president and decrying Congress’ anticipated certification of Electoral College votes. The certification of 306 Electoral College votes for President-elect Joseph R. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, and 232 for the president and Vice President Michael R. Pence, concluded shortly before 4 a.m. Thursday.
Shelter-in-place and evacuation orders delayed the proceeding mid-afternoon, as pro-Trump rioters vandalized offices, shattered glass and took photos inside congressional chambers. Some waved Confederate flags and others sported clothing screenprinted with “Camp Auschwitz,” the Nazi concentration camp where 1 million Jewish people were murdered.
State Sen. Daniel G. Stec, R-Queensbury, was sworn in Tuesday in Albany, after previously representing the state Assembly’s 114th District for seven years. At his Albany post for less than 24 hours before Wednesday’s eruption, Mr. Stec described the violence in the nation’s capital as “unacceptable.”
“The peaceful exercise of the right to protest is vital to the health of our democracy,” he said in a statement Thursday. “But so, too, is the maintenance and respect of law and order. There is no room for this kind of behavior in any part of America.”
In an email Thursday afternoon, state Sen. Patricia A. Ritchie, R-Heuvelton, repeated what she wrote on Twitter Wednesday evening, adding she is “beyond saddened by the unacceptable violence and loss of life.”
“These acts are an assault on the rule of law and those who took part should be prosecuted,” she wrote.
Looking toward a respectful and peaceful transition of power on Jan. 20, Mr. Gray said: “Everybody needs to take a deep breath.”