Republicans in Tennessee on Wednesday and Thursday spoke out against the siege on the U.S. Capitol in Washington earlier Wednesday.
In the midst of a massive demonstration supporting President Donald J. Trump, protestors breached a police line and forced their way into the capitol building, forcing evacuations and disrupting Congress as it heard testimony before certifying the electoral votes from the Nov. 2 presidential election.
At least four people died. A woman was shot by police and three others died in what were being termed “medical emergencies.”
“The criminal behavior today in our nation’s capitol is indefensible,” State Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, said in a tweet Wednesday evening. “There is no excuse. The United States is a nation that prizes free speech, and many acts depicted today are beyond that prize and, in fact, dishonor it.”
Earlier in the evening, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee weighed in via Twitter.
“The violence happening in our nation’s capitol is inexcusable and an affront to our founding principles and freedoms,” Lee said. “I stand with our Tennessee delegation that order must be restored immediately and thank law enforcement for their professionalism.”
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., is a staunch Trump supporter and was among a handful of senators who said they would object to the certification of the electoral votes in favor of Democrat Joe Biden. However, she tweeted that the actions by protestors were “truly despicable and unacceptable,” and later voted in support of certifying the electoral college results.
“To the protestors that have breached the Capitol building: you are disrupting the democratic process,” she said in a tweet. “You should be ashamed of yourself. This is violence. This is a crime. It must stop.”
Blackburn’s newly-elected colleague in the Senate, Bill Hagerty, likewise sounded off on Twitter. After tweeting a picture of a huge throng of Trump supporters earlier in the day, adding, “Among this crowd are Tennesseans who traveled across the country to support President @realDonaldTrump,” Hagerty condemned the protestors who breached the capitol building.
“I have always believed in peaceful protesting,” said Hagerty. “What is happening at the U.S. capitol right now is not peaceful, this is violence. I condemn it in the strongest terms. We are a nation of laws and this must stop.”
Hagerty, like Blackburn, ultimately voted to certify the electoral college results.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who represents Tennessee’s 3rd District, including Scott County, said that “Peaceful protests are protected by the First Amendment in the U.S. Constitution. What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is not peaceful. I strongly condemn these actions.
“This is a sad day,” Fleischmann added.
Later, Fleischmann tweeted that the violence that had occurred at the capitol is “an affront to our Republic,” while repeating his objections to the electoral college certification and reiterating concerns about the election.
“It is time to come together as a nation and seek to heal our divisions,” Fleischmann concluded. “We are, and have always been, one nation under God, indivisible.”
Weston Wamp, the son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp and a one-time Republican opponent of Fleischmann’s, was blunt in his assessment of the situation on Facebook.
“Spent a lot of my childhood in that capitol building and I revere it,” Wamp said. “Lincoln insisted it be built as a beacon of freedom to the whole world. Breaks my heart to see it disrespected like this. All those who misled Americans into believing their election was stolen are complicit in the chaos we see today in Washington.”
State Rep. Becky Duncan Massey, R-Knoxville, who has Scott County ties as the daughter of the late Congressman John J. Duncan Sr., added her voice to the conversation on Thursday afternoon.
“I am saddened and angry about what is happening in our country,” Massey said. “Yesterday’s event at our precious United States Capitol were terrible. They were perpetrated by evil thugs who should be prosecuted. We have to have law and order to survive as a country.
“I believe in the 1st Amendment guarantee of speech and to peacefully assemble,” Massey added. “All citizens have the right to peacefully protest. The majority of people in Washington yesterday (not the ones who stormed the Capitol) as in the other demonstrations across our country this past year, were there to have their voices heard. Their voices were hijacked by evil people.
“Many of the protests this past year, as the one yesterday, have disintegrated to lawlessness, violence, property damage and physical assaults,” she said. “This has to end; peace, law and order have to be restored in our Capitol and cities across the country. I pray for healing.”
Following Congress’s vote to certify the electoral college results, Trump promised a peaceful transfer of power to Biden.