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Local leaders react to Capitol Hill siege

On Jan. 6, an armed and angry mob of President Donald Trump supporters sieged Capitol Hill in an attempt to block the Electoral College count to certify President-elect Joe Biden and Vice president-elect Kamala Harris’ presidential win. Protestors pushed passed barricades, broke windows and entered rooms and offices in the Capitol. Many blame Trump for inciting the riot at his “Save America Rally,” telling supporters to “stop the steal” of the election.

“I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened and we fight, we fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” stated Trump at the rally before urging the crowd to march to the Capitol and demonstrate against the certification. Five people, including a Capitol police officer were killed during the siege.

It took more than four hours to get the Capitol building back to safety before Congress reconvened, and continued the electoral count, certifying the Biden/Harris ticket in the early hours of Jan. 7. Trump is now facing a second impeachment and a call for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th amendment.

East County local leaders shared their opinions on the incidents of Jan. 6 and the ensuing procedures against the president.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said like most Americans, he was appalled to see the Capitol invaded.

“To be honest I’ve also been appalled to see cities burning and violence in the streets from the Left I also believe it’s too early to come to a judgement about who was involved and why,” he said. “In any event, this hatred for the Left or for the Right and the converse, is a cancer. Plans to impeach the president again, with only a few days left for him to be in office, only serve to solidify more hatred. It is a horrible mistake in my opinion.”

Lemon Grove Council member Jennifer Mendoza said in thinking about the siege on the Capitol, she feels like she has been going through the stages of grief.

“At first, you are just shocked, and I would say in the first 24 hours I was just speechless,” she said. “I did not know what to think or what to say about what had happened. Then I was incredibly sad for our country and then finally, I am angry. I am just really angry and becoming less angry and sad again. I really feel like I have just been grieving over this whole situation. As a nonpartisan politician, as a city council member, I really want to take politics out of it because I do not think it is as political as people want to make it. I think this is about a man, and I am speaking of Trump, who has whipped up a cult of people who will believe any lie that he tells them. Like Rev. Jim Jones, they are drinking his Kool-Aid. I think they would follow him, and they have shown us, they would follow him into battle and die for his cause. To me, that is so very, very sad. I think that my anger is more directed at Trump and his allies who have whipped this people up into these actions that had these people do what they actually did. Where do we go from here? I went to mass this morning. I am a regular mass attender, but I have almost never prayed so hard in my life. I am praying that our country can heal from this horrible, horrible situation and that we can move on.”

Lemon Grove Mayor Raquel Vasquez said as a country, we are dealing with many things these days, systemic racism, our own physical, mental and financial health and the wellbeing of those who surround us.

“Last week, many of us watched the protest at our nation’s Capitol with disbelief, sadness and disappointment. What we witnessed was a direct attack on the founding principles of our democracy,” she said. “Storming of the Capitol and unnecessary loss of life is unacceptable. Now is the time to choose peace over violence, we are better than this. While we have hit critical mass, we can go from clenched fist to holding hands to heal this nation. We are the United States of America and when we stand together in unity, we are strong. Like the city of Lemon Grove, America’s strength is in our diversity and caring spirit of community. I know that we can come together to bridge our differences through peaceful and respectful conversations with one shared goal to build our country back better.”

San Diego County Supervisor Joel Anderson, District 2 said that anything that leads to crime is wrong.

“It doesn’t matter if it is in La Mesa or if it is in the capital of the United States in Washington,” he said. “I think that we have a process, and the process is being followed, and at the end of that process we are going to go on to bigger and better things as a country.”

Californian Assemblyman Randy Voepel likened Jan. 6 to a turning point, according to The Los Angeles Times.

“This is Lexington and Concord. First shots fired against tyranny,” Voepel said to The Times. “Tyranny will follow in the aftermath of the Biden swear in on January 20th.”

In negative responses to this quote, Voepel posted on his Facebook page saying he wanted to “follow up” in response.

“I would like to follow up to state clearly and unequivocally that I do not condone or support the violence and lawlessness that took place on Wednesday, Jan. 6, at our nation’s capital,” he wrote. “The loss of life, theft of government property, and blatant disregard for law and order is reprehensible and unnecessary, and I offer my condolences and prayers for the families reeling from the recent loss of their loved ones. The events that took place last Wednesday, as unacceptable as they were, are a sign of the deep division currently facing our nation. That is why it is especially important that each of us work extra hard to heal the divisions between us.”

Rep. Darrell Issa 50th congressional district released the following statement on Jan. 11 explaining his reasons for not supporting a second impeachment of President Trump. He said he is disappointed that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the majority of Democrats are refusing to join Republicans in uniting the Congress and helping bring the country together. He said it is unfortunate that they are instead choosing to rush ahead with a second presidential impeachment in less than 12 month and cannot support it if it reaches the House floor.

“This won’t do anything to bring us together – and I fear will do much to drive the Congress and the country even further apart. Rather than a time for conflict, this is an ideal opportunity to turn down the rhetoric in Washington and strengthen the ties that bind us. What we should be doing right now is uniting as Americans and doing our part in the peaceful transition of power.”

Issa said he ran and returned to Congress to work on ending the COVID-19 pandemic, address vital economic and infrastructure needs of his district, and safeguarding America’s national security.

“So did my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The voters did not send us here to do this,” he stated. “There is still time to for cooler heads to prevail. I hope Speaker Pelosi can be persuaded to stop further dividing us. I further hope that President-elect Biden will choose to constructively engage the nation he intends to lead. The stakes are too great for us to fail.”

El Cajon Council member District 2 Michelle Metschel responded with “no comment.”

Source: East County Californian

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