Agriculturalists join rally at nation’s capital
Pictured in front of the Capitol on Jan. 6 are, left to right, Nathan Kramer, Dan Phelps, Rusty Kemp, Kyle Gifford, Casey Macken, Steve Scholz, Rob Ita, and Arlan Paxton. Photo courtesy Steve Scholz
for Tri-State Livestock News
Jan. 6, 2021, Congress convened to certify the vote that elected Joe Biden president of the United States. That day, President Trump stood before an audience of thousands and incited his supporters to violence and insurrection.
That’s the official account, according to mainstream media and many in Congress, who voted to impeach Trump days later, based on his words and the actions taken that day.
Eyewitness accounts and the transcript of Trump’s speech tell a somewhat different story.
According to photos, video and eyewitness accounts, an unknown number of rally participants broke a window in the Capitol and entered the building, posing for photographs at the desk of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and allegedly stealing her laptop.
The rally ended with several arrests, at least one rally-goer dead, and some police officers injured, according to ABC news.
In an article published Jan. 6, and updated Jan. 8, The New York Times wrote, “And when that day came, the president rallied thousands of his supporters with an incendiary speech. Then a large mob of those supporters, many waving Trump flags and wearing Trump regalia, violently stormed the Capitol to take over the halls of government and send elected officials into hiding, fearing for their safety.”
Western Nebraska cattle feeder Steve Scholz said he attended the rally because, “I believe this is a turning point in America where we have to be there and make our voices heard to save this republic.”
Scholz said he doesn’t know who the bad actors were, and he was far enough back he couldn’t see them very well, but all of the people he encountered were peaceful, as were the leaders and speakers. “You throw a cross section of a million people, you are going to get a few whack jobs,” he said.
“There were enough people there that if we wanted to storm the Capitol, there was nothing they could have done about it.”
Another rally attendee, Dennis Miller, a 70-year-old eastern North Dakota farmer, said he believes most who attended the rally were protesting the election results.
“The reason they were there was because this election was stolen — nobody’s talking about that,” he said.
Scholz estimates that over a million people — of every race, color, gender and age — gathered to support President Trump and protest the certification of former Vice President Joe Biden as the 46th president of the United States.
“There were Chinese families with little kids holding flags, there were 80 year old ladies with walkers, clinging to their American flags. People were singing patriotic songs, people were quoting scripture, people were quoting the constitution, there were people dressed in Revolutionary War type costumes.” Scholz said there were even a few protesters horseback. “I’ve never seen a crowd like that. There were even people from other countries. Their eyes are on America. They know if America falls, they all fall. They expressed that.”
Miller said that he attended an event the evening before the rally where he and the crowd heard at least 15 speakers including Gen. Michael Flynn, a retired United States Army lieutenant general who was briefly the national security adviser to President Trump, and Roger Stone, Trump’s political adviser, the president’s pastor and many developers of alternative media.
“I did not hear one speaker urge aggression or violence,” said Miller. “Speakers encouraged prayer. If I could shrink what I heard into one sentence the rally speakers urged us to go home, register voters, convince our neighbors that conservative values will be the only way to guarantee the future of our country.”
Trump’s speech included calling his supporters to action, and outlining what he said is proof of voter fraud, for 70 minutes. The finals words of his speech were:
“So we’re going to, we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give … The Democrats are hopeless. They’re never voting for anything, not even one vote. But we’re going to try and give our Republicans, the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help, we’re going to try and give them the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.
“So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue. I want to thank you all. God bless you and God bless America. Thank you all for being here, this is incredible. Thank you very much. Thank you.”
Miller and Scholz both spoke of waiting in long lines, moving through security checkpoints into an open area near Washington Monument to hear President Trump speak, and then toward the Capitol building.
Scholz said most people easily walked through security but he did see three individuals with flak vests under their coats who were turned back several times, each time removing pepper spray, mace, or other items from their clothing and leaving it on the ground. Eventually Secret Service confiscated the items and allowed the individuals through.
“We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators, and congressmen and women,” said the president in his speech.
“My friend (another farmer) and I accompanied each other to the capitol and began making our way to the Capitol steps,” said Miller. “No barricades were present and we started up the steps on the right (downwind) side. We were maybe halfway up the steps in shoulder to shoulder people and tear gas quite near us caused us to back down to fresh air. We walked up the steps, peacefully, as well as thousands of others.” According to a timeline published by The New York Times, this was likely after supporters had already breached the security barricades surrounding the Capitol building. Miller and his associates did not enter the Capitol.
“I was thinking I was going to stand up and redress our grievances, that’s our first amendment right,” said Miller.
A few individuals wearing bulletproof vests and other gear that resembled police broke a window and entered the Capitol, he said. Others followed into the Capitol. No news reports indicate damage to the interior of the Capitol.
Much of the crowd was chanting “no, no, no” during this time, he said.
Miller said the crowd had been warned that if outsiders were to join in, that they should avoid conflict. “We were told, don’t engage, stay away from Antifa — they have high-paid lawyers and a bottomless defense fund. If you get arrested, you are off the bus and on your own.”
Scholz said the biggest takeaway for him was the mainstream media’s portrayal of what he saw as a mostly peaceful event. “The seven other guys who went with me were absolutely fighting mad three days later because of what they say in the media compared to what they saw with their own eyes. They were so upset with how the media blew it out of proportion.”
House Democrats filed an article of impeachment, claiming “incitement of insurrection,” blaming the President for causing the violent acts that followed the rally Jan. 6.
With emotions high and livelihoods on the line, America’s farmers and ranchers have much at stake when it comes to elections and other political activity.
Every human needs food, and agriculture ought to be the topic that unifies, rather than divides. “I think a farmer needs to produce food for a hungry world,” said Miller.
The U.S. Department of Justice reported that many arrests have been made.
“In the last week, more than 70 individuals have been criminally charged; we have opened more than 170 investigations; the FBI has gathered more than 100,000 digital tips from the public; and there is a lot more to come. The wrongdoers will be held responsible,” said acting Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen on Jan. 13.
“Anybody who broke the law, whether they were Trump supporters or Antifa or anyone else, should be punished,” said Miller.
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