A lawmaker from West Virginia who filmed himself while protesters entered the U.S. Capitol building in Washington earlier this week won’t resign despite facing bipartisan calls and mounting pressure, his lawyer said.
Derrick Evans, a Republican and member of the West Virginia House of Delegates, was among other people from the state who traveled to Washington to attend the multi-day rallies that were organized near the White House against the Electoral College results and alleged election fraud.
“Mr. Evans did nothing wrong,” the civil rights attorney said. “He was exercising his First Amendment rights to peacefully protest and ﬁlm a historic and dynamic event. He engaged in no violence, no rioting, no destruction of property, and no illegal behavior.”
Bryan added that his client did not organize or lead a group to travel to the protest. The statement reads Evans personally bought himself a ticket for a charter bus ride to attend the “Stop the Steal” rally which was already planned long before the Jan. 6 incident.
“We’re in! We’re in! Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” the lawmaker can be heard saying. “Our house!” he yelled once inside the Capitol halls. “I don’t know where we’re going. I’m following the crowd.”
Evans, who is also an independent activist and journalist with more than 30,000 followers on Facebook, has not publicly posted on social media since issuing the statement, which says he attended the events as an “independent member of the media to film history.”
“Attending the planned peaceful protest is consistent with Mr. Evans’ long history of exercising his constitutional rights in this manner,” Bryans said in the statement. “He has previously traveled throughout the country for similar in furtherance of his activism and amateur journalism to other planned peaceful protests and potentially historic events.”
“At no point was Mr. Evans located in the crowd on the West side of the (Capitol) building, nor anywhere else on the Capitol grounds, where violence and destruction of property was, or had been, occurring,” the attorney added. “Given the sheer size of the group walking in, Mr. Evans had no choice but to enter.”
The Republican speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw, said Wednesday night that Evans will need to “answer to his constituents and colleagues” for his actions. Democratic leadership called for his prosecution. About 40,000 people signed a petition on change.org asking for Evans’ removal.