Orange County residents were among the thousands who flocked to the nation’s capital Jan. 6 to address their concerns about election integrity.
The rally became unruly after protesters stormed the U.S. Capitol—but Southern California residents in attendance told The Epoch Times that the day’s events have been inaccurately reported by mainstream media.
“I believe what we’re dealing with is just following the Constitution,” said Mark Simon, a 49-year-old resident of Huntington Beach. “It’s not just a piece of paper. It’s the foundation of our country.”
Simon told The Epoch Times he attended the rally in support of President Donald Trump, and to ensure a free and fair election. He said he saw many “frustrated patriots” attending the rally who “just wanted to be heard.”
“If you lose a free election, you lose democracy,” Simon said. He described the rally like a party with loud music, but said events quickly escalated when protesters started storming the Capitol.
He said police began pushing back against protesters about 10 feet from the Capitol doors to keep them out, adding that “very minor destruction” took place considering the hundreds of thousands in attendance.
“The worst I saw there was a couple patriots on top of some type of government vehicle—on the roof. That was about it. There was no damage to the vehicle,” Simon said.
Simon said the mainstream media was “editing shots” out of context to make the protesters look more violent and destructive than they actually were.
“They may have been climbing up a wall, but there is no damage to the wall. There’s no graffiti,” Simon said.
“If the patriots wanted to get in there and cause damage or burn the Capitol down or get to Congress or hurt anybody, they would have got hurt,” he said.
“They had full control of the place. Cops had no control throughout the day. We could have gone wherever we wanted at any time, and it was not done. They were restrained.”
Orange County resident Mike Lowther told The Epoch Times he traveled to Washington because he felt he needed to support the integrity of the presidential election.
“I traveled to DC to support President Trump because the 2020 election was stolen from him due to widespread voter fraud,” Lowther said via text message.
“This is a critical time for the future of our democracy, and I wanted to make it known that I took a stand.”
Lowther said he hoped the rally would push members of Congress to object to the certification of the electoral college—but said he wanted it to remain peaceful despite the volume of Trump supporters in attendance. He too said most media coverage of the event “was clearly skewed.”
“They refused to show the hundreds of thousands (possibly a million) people gathered around Ellipse Park and the Washington Monument listening to Trump speak,” Lowther said. “In terms of the Capitol Building, they were so quick to assume it was Trump Supporters and not Antifa that was causing violence.”
He said the media didn’t cover the Black Lives Matter or Antifa riots during the summer, but covered the Jan. 6 event “because it fits the narrative” they want.
Lowther said he didn’t personally go to the Capitol, but heard “nonstop sirens” racing toward the site after the initial rally.
“Everything about the shots fired and tear gas is true,” he said. “DC [soon] sent out a lockdown order to everyone’s phone. [After that,] you could feel in the air that there was a shift.”
Brandon Drey, a freelance journalist out of San Clemente, said he traveled to Washington to document a historical moment in the nation’s history. He felt mainstream media organizations treated the event like it was the first time there was a protest in the city.
“They’re making it sound like [any unlawfulness was] all Trump supporters, but the reality is that what I was seeing was there were a lot of bad actors that I think were posing as Trump supporters,” Drey told The Epoch Times.
He noted that inside the Capitol building, some people outfitted in Trump paraphernalia were seen vandalizing offices. When they were told to stop by Trump supporters, they responded with things like, “We’re in a revolution!”—which Drey thought “sounded off.”
“Personally, I just hope to see some sort of resolve, what the next four years will look like. That way, everybody can kind of move on,” he said.
Orange County’s Newest Members of Congress Weigh In
Michelle Steel, sworn in as a member of Congress just days ago, took a strong stand against the rally’s violence on Twitter.
“Violence is never, ever the answer. As Americans we are blessed with the right to make our voices heard in support of our democracy, but turning to violence is always wrong,” Steel said.
“I am praying for the Capitol Police today, and am thankful for their work to keep us safe.”
Newly elected Congresswoman Young Kim also issued a statement in support of a fair election, but noted Jan. 5 that the constitutional process doesn’t allow Congress to overturn elections.
“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy,” said Kim. “While our election process is not perfect, Americans must have confidence in our election system and deserve to have their concerns addressed. Concerns of election integrity and security must be addressed and taken seriously.
“This election was hard-fought with high turnout on both sides. The president has the right to challenge the election results through the legal, constitutional system, and we know Joe Biden would do the same if he had concerns. If evidence of wrongdoing is uncovered, it should be investigated by the proper authorities.”
She added that though she didn’t vote for Joe Biden, the constitutional process has been followed.
“The American people have voted; states have certified their elections; and courts have made their rulings,” she stated.
“Congress does not determine which electors states send, and we must respect the authority of the states. The electoral college has voted and I will respect their vote. … I hope we can move forward for the future of our democracy and our nation and work together in Congress to secure our elections.”