Protesters Flood Statehouses in 17 States

January 6, 2021 Updated: January 8, 2021

Supporters of President Donald Trump flocked to the capitals of more than a dozen states on Jan. 6 as a group of protesters in Washington broke into the U.S. Capitol.

Small and mostly peaceful protests challenging the legitimacy of the 2020 election took place outside the statehouses in Arizona, California, Mississipi, Tennessee, Minnesota, Georgia, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Washington, Ohio, Oregon, Kansas, Hawaii, Wisconsin, and South Carolina.

Signs saying “Stop the steal” and “Four more years” were common throughout amid the president’s ongoing dispute of the election results in seven states. Only a few arrests were reported and scuffles broke out in states like Ohio and California.

A caravan of flag-waving protesters on horseback and in vehicles prompted New Mexico police to evacuate a statehouse building, which contains the offices of the governor and the secretary of state. The demonstrators sang “God Bless America,” honked horns, and claimed on a megaphone that Trump was the rightful election winner.

At the epicenter of the protest in Washington, D.C., Air Force veteran and Trump supporter Ashli Babbit, who was among those who broke into the Capitol building, was shot and died from her injuries. The violence beyond that was not widespread and protesters were seen commingling with law enforcement inside the building. Those who left the building were not allowed to return.

The breach of the U.S. Capitol occurred as lawmakers debated over the objection to the counting of a slate of presidential Arizona electors for former Vice President Joe Biden. Arizona is one of seven states where Trump has challenged the outcome of the election, citing unconstitutional changes to election law and several categories of potentially illegal votes.

News of the breach of the U.S. Capitol triggered cheers at the protests in Minnesota and Arizona, where protesters exercising their second amendment rights marched at the capitol in Phoenix.

In Georgia, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger evacuated his offices at the capitol after 100 protesters gathered outside, some armed with long guns.

“We saw stuff happening at the Georgia capitol and said we should not be around here, we should not be a spark,” Gabriel Sterling, a top official with Raffensperger’s office, told The Associated Press.

Trump has criticized Raffensperger and Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp for being uncooperative with his effort to audit the election, most recently by declining a signature audit in Fulton County.

Kemp called the breach of the U.S. Capitol as “a disgrace and quite honestly un-American.” The governor said he was extending an executive order from protests over the summer, activating the National Guard in case they are needed to protect the state capitol on Monday when the legislative session begins.

In Washington state, protesters broke through a gate at the governor’s mansion and dozens of people gathered on the lawn. The State Patrol said authorities were responding and that Gov. Jay Inslee “and his family are in a safe location.”

Earlier, dozens of people gathered at the state capitol, demanding a recount of the U.S. presidential election and Washington’s gubernatorial election, which Inslee, a Democrat, won by more than 500,000 votes.

In Utah, the staff of Gov. Spencer Cox was sent home as several hundred people gathered in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake Tribune photographer Rick Egan said he was pepper-sprayed by a demonstrator who taunted him for wearing a mask and shoved him as he was shooting video of the protest.

At least one person was arrested at the Oregon capitol in Salem on suspicion of harassment and disorderly conduct as police in riot gear tried to get people—many of them armed—to leave.

In Topeka, Kansas, a rally ended with Trump supporters filing peacefully into the statehouse building through security checkpoints and milling around historical exhibits.

In Honolulu, Hawaii, about dozens of protesters lined the road outside the state capitol waving American and Trump 2020 flags at passing cars.

In Madison, Wisconsin, Trump supporters circled the state capitol building in cars and trucks adorned with Trump and U.S. flags for several hours Wednesday, blaring their horns.

In Colorado, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock ordered city agencies to close buildings after hundreds gathered in front of the capitol building.

In South Carolina, protesters supporting Trump came to the Statehouse but the gathering had broken up by the time the U.S. Capitol was breached.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Follow Ivan on Twitter: @ivanpentchoukov