Two McAlester men shared their experiences after they went to Washington D.C. in support of President Donald Trump this week.
Lou Lyles and Darrell Johnson told the News-Capital they wanted to participate in a peaceful protest of the 2020 election results as Congress met Wednesday at the Capitol to certify Joe Biden's victory.
"I felt like if enough people showed up they'd at least take a second look at the election," Lyles said.
Thousands of people carrying Trump flags and wearing pro-Trump memorabilia gathered and voiced distrust of the election process on Wednesday in protest of the certification proceedings. Trump tweeted Dec. 19 about a rally to protest the proceedings: "Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, be wild!"
Lyles said he and Johnson arrived around 8 a.m. to listen as Trump and Rudy Guiliani spoke to people gathered for what the president called the "Save America Rally" and "Save America March."
"We listened to the speech when Rudy Guiliani talked and Trump talked, and then we thought everything was dispersing and shutting down so we walked over to the Lincoln Memorial," Lyles said.
"When we came back, we saw there was a lot of people at the Capitol dome," Lyles said.
A joint session in the House of Representatives chamber to count Electoral College votes started around midday and protestors started grappling with security on the Capitol steps 10 minutes later, according to multiple reports and videos posted throughout the day.
Photos, videos and reports show protestors breached police lines, broke into the Capitol building through windows, destroyed signs in the building, and occupied the chambers within an hour.
Lyles said he never went inside the building and would not argue anything violent seen on video taken inside the Capitol because he didn't go inside.
But he said he saw no violence from his spot outside the building on a scaffolding.
"The people I was around there and the way our people were acting, there was no violence going on whatsoever," Lyles said.
Lyles said he believes the people who stormed the building were a small percentage of the mass of people gathered and that he didn't condone their actions.
"Going up to the building, I was good with that — but going into the building, not so much," Lyles said. "I think we should've just stayed back."
Lyles shared videos he took from the grounds showing masses of people chanting and waiving flags outside the Capitol.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6 p.m. curfew due to the events. Lyles said he was at the Capitol from 1 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. because he didn't want to violate the curfew.
Lyles said he and Johnson arrived in D.C. and did some sight-seeing on Monday, noticing fencing placed around the Capitol building and people already gathering en masse.
They both wanted to have their opinions heard at the event and said they did not condone any violent acts taken.
Congress reconvened after the attacks and voted early Thursday morning to certify Joe Biden's victory in the 2020 presidential election.
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