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Republican state lawmakers from across the country traveled to D.C. on Wednesday. At least one joined the siege of the U.S. Capitol Building.
A West Virginia lawmaker live-streamed himself entering the U.S. Capitol Building during a violent riot on Wednesday that temporarily halted the certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
Incoming state Del. Derrick Evans, a Republican, entered the Capitol shouting “We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” Evans was part of a mob that later walked around the Capitol Rotunda, milling about with little police presence. On Friday, federal prosecutors announced that Evans had been charged with entering a restricted area
Evans was not the only state lawmaker in attendance at the events in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. Lawmakers from at least nine states traveled to the nation’s capital to attend demonstrations against the certification of election results, egged on by President Donald Trump, who in the morning gave a speech in which he said he would “never concede.”
Those who came to D.C. include Arizona state Rep. Mark Finchem, incoming Nevada state Assemblywoman Annie Black, Tennessee state Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, Alaska state Rep. David Eastman, Michigan state Rep. Matt Maddock, and Missouri state Rep. Justin Hill.
Their accounts of their level of participation in Wednesday’s event varied. Eastman and Hill said they came to D.C. but didn’t participate in the demonstrations. Black said she marched from the White House to the Capitol but retreated from the crowd when people began charging the security barrier around the building. Weaver told The Tennessean she was “in the thick of it” but wouldn’t specify if she had entered the Capitol on what she called an “epic and historic day.”
At least two of the state lawmakers were involved in organizing busloads of people from their state to attend the events on Wednesday.
Mastriano organized a bus for people from Pennsylvania, then said he left the Capitol to avoid getting “caught in any violence.” Maddock did the same for people from Michigan and spoke at a rally with his wife, another conservative activist, on Tuesday, but said he was in a hotel room when the violence unfolded the next day.
In the aftermath of the Capitol siege, state and local leaders from across the country condemned what several called a failed “coup attempt.”
Now, some are calling for lawmakers who participated in the demonstrations to step down. Jessica Post, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a national group that helps elect Democrats to statehouses, said that “any Republican legislator who took part in yesterday’s insurrection, in Washington, D.C., or anywhere else in the country, should resign immediately.”
“Yesterday was a stain on our country’s history and a dangerous affront to democracy—all those involved have no place making laws,” Post said.
In Pennsylvania, Democrats say Mastriano should resign, and if that doesn’t happen, he should be stripped of leadership and committee assignments.
In Virginia, where Chase is a Republican contender for governor this year, the state Democratic Senate Caucus said she should resign for “horrifyingly empowering a failed coup d’état” and “galvaniz[ing] domestic terrorists.” After the events on Wednesday, Chase wrote on Facebook that “these were not rioters and looters; these were Patriots who love their country.”
In Michigan, Maddock’s wife, Meshawn—who organized the bus rides with him—is set to become the next co-chair of the state Republican Party; some Republican leaders in the state are calling on her to withdraw her candidacy.
No one is facing more pressure to resign than Evans in West Virginia. As of Friday afternoon, more than 55,000 people have signed a petition asking for him to be removed from the state House of Delegates for “leading and participating in terrorism."
Before Evans was charged, his lawyer said he had no plans to resign but that he "deeply regrets that (violent) actions occurred.”
Democratic leadership in the state said that Evan’s involvement in Wednesday’s events is too glaring to ignore. House of Delegates Minority Leader Doug Skaff, Jr. said that Evans “not only participated in this violent, intentional disruption of government; he helped lead a group that he organized to travel to Washington, D.C. to cause this chaos.”
Paired with Evans’ history of stalking and threatening people, Skaff said his behavior is “cause for alarm and a real safety concern for all those who work at our State Capitol Complex.”
The West Virginia Democratic Party went one step further, saying that Evans “must be held accountable for participating in an act of insurrection” and should be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Emma Coleman is the assistant editor for Route Fifty.