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9: That fateful day

In prior posts I summarized the political abuse (much of it illegal) that had been shoved in the face of conservatives for 12 years. Every attempt was made to delegitimize and dehumanize us with lies, a corrupt IRS, and a complicit media. The idea of Liberty for the Individual is like garlic to a vampire with the political left.

And yet through it all, I still was optimistic that our republic would not fall to a rigged election and corrupt officials. It is with that spirit that I, along with my wife and adult daughter, left on January 5 to go to DC.

We arrived in early evening. A block away from our hotel in downtown DC was a gathering. Well, more like an open party in the street. A large truck and a flatbed like a parade float for Trump 2020 was there, and music was blaring. We walked over, and joined the crowd of several hundred Trump supporters who were going to the rally the next day. It was a very happy atmosphere, with families, couples, and groups of friends meeting each other and having fun.

The next morning, after a modest breakfast at our hotel, we grabbed our coffee and began our 8 block walk down 10th Street. Each block we passed, we saw people making their way to 10th Street. As we approached the mall, I could not believe what I saw. While the mall was not at the capacity it would be, people were walking from all directions, and a good-sized crowd was already assembling.

There was no way we were going to get close to the stage area. No, the issue we and thousands of others faced was mud. With (slightly) warmer-than-usual weather, the snow had melted, the ground was slick, and in some places nothing but a mud pond. We did our best to avoid those areas, and made our way towards the Washington Monument.

There were all sorts of people, flags, and clothing. Everyone felt at home with one another. The flags and signs signaled a presence from almost every state. There were lots of Trump2020 flags, but also many others, like Don't Tread on Me, funny quotes, and pictures of Trump in boxing gloves. It was fun seeing people in their red-white-and-blue finest, with a few "Uncle Sams" in the crowd. Sure, there were a few "Q" flags, and I saw one confederate flag in a tree. However, there were 10's of thousands of flags.

I can see how that visual is frightening to some people. The crowd, always ignored or downplayed by the media, was enormous. It was far bigger than the attendance at any speech had had given during the campaign. We all felt very patriotic and passionate. However, we were concerned about the day's events, and looked forward to the speeches and activities.

Somewhere between 9:30 and 10:00, the music stopped, and the speeches started. The first few speakers were hard to hear, but the sound was soon adjusted, and we could hear and see on the big projection screens. Rudy Giuliani began speaking. We hoped that a new insight or development would come to light, but his speech was full of the same talking points that we heard in the past six weeks. The speeches were ok, but nothing noteworthy.

President Trump was scheduled to speak at 11 AM. However, we waited patiently outside for the better part of an hour. He finally walked on stage, and the crowd grew quiet. He began by calling out the media for not showing the crowd size. He welcomed everyone, and thanked the speakers. Then he mentioned that "If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election." He then went on to say that this does not take courage. What takes courage is doing nothing, and then we're "stuck with a president who lost the election by a lot." While I agree with the sentiment, the fact that he said it indicated that he was not on solid footing with Pence. He went on to discuss the media, the results of the elections in key states, and the efforts undertaken by his legal team.

In an act of pure political nastiness, DC Mayor Bowser had removed all but a very small group of porta potties. At this point, we thought we would go back to our hotel room, get some snacks and freshen up. Trump was still speaking as we walked through the crowd to 10th Street. In a few blocks, the sounds of the rally subsided. We went to our hotel room, turned on the TV, and grabbed some protein bars and water.

As we watched, we saw Mike Pence announce that he was going to count the votes as is, and not return any votes back to any state. Then I heard Mitch McConnell request that the votes go smoothly. Or something like that. The TV also showed people with flags up on the Capitol! This didn't make a lot of sense to us, since we thought most people would still be at the mall. However, as the TV panned out, it showed a lot of people already assembling in front of the Capitol.

At this point, we decided to go outside and see what is going on. We were a bit of a way off when I looked at my wife and said "I really want a picture from up there", since the crowd was large coming from the mall. As it turns out, the hotel key was on my phone, so I gave her my driver's license in case they wanted to go back to the room (the front desk would give them a key). So l left them.

I have seen pictures of barricades in some areas. Where I was, there were a few, but they weren't barricading anything, just out on the lawn. I passed one police officer who was crowd watching. As I looked around, there were many people walking to the Capitol. I arrived at the steps, which were unmanned by police or any barrier. I, along with many others, walked up to the top of the Capitol steps. I saw a group of officers at the top, off to my right, who were casually talking to some protesters.

As I turned to my left, after taking a picture of the crowd, I saw a line of people walking towards the capitol doors. There were police officers standing there. They did not stop anyone from entering the Capitol. The protesters were in a single line, walking through the door. This was not a damaged door. It was not a broken window. Nobody was fighting anyone or doing anything violent. It didn't occur to me that there was anything nefarious going on. Sure, many of us were upset, but it was all harmless yelling. With the hindsight of 18 months, there were many signs that this was a bad idea. At the time, I was curious.

So, I walked through the door. Like almost everyone else, I had my phone out, capturing video of the inside of the entrance. There were no officers (that I could see) anywhere in the entrance. I wandered down the hallway. There were a few hallways, and I watched a protester speaking calmly to a police officer about where to go. He was watching over one hallway, which everyone walked away from.

I, with some others, were near the visitor's center. There is a large stairway nearby. I heard people going down the stairs. Some were excitedly going down the stairs, encouraging everyone ("this way"). If I had not been already upset at what had happened this day, with Trump and Pence, I would have been in a better state of mind. However, I felt some anger as the magnitude of what was happening to the country filtered into my pea brain.

I proceeded to walk down the stairs. Some chairs had been thrown down the stairs (I guess), as they were scattered at the bottom. There were a few in my way. In a moment of excessive exuberance, and stupidity, I picked up one of the cheap chairs and threw the chair off to the side. The prosecutor would insinuate that I was throwing a chair at officers (but careful to not say that directly, of course). He would mention that they were way down the hallway. I never saw them. I gathered myself together, and took a deep breath to calm down and look around. This would be called a "menacing glare" by the judge (or perhaps the prosecutor - we'll get to that later). In fact, I have resting bitch face about 100% of the time, so, no, this wasn't a Spartacus moment. So, yes, that was stupid. I didn't think much of it because there was no harm, no intent to harm, just taking a chair thrown by someone else and throwing it further. But certainly not my best act!

At the end of the long hallway were some doors. There were several police officers, one having a calm talk with a few protesters. However, there were several very upset people, and the police there were looking to de-escalate. A small crowd was assembling. I stood back away from the front, about four or five people back. We were chanting "USA".

Then I saw something that caused my heart to race. A man with a black helmet, and a black body vest sprayed something at the police who were manning the door. He was in front of me, to my left. This was clearly something violent, and a provocation. Before anyone could do anything, the police charged out at the protesters in front of me. In the commotion that followed, I had turned to leave, and had contact with an officer who had bumped into my back. A different officer, who did not see the entire incident, threw me to the ground.

The officer told me to stay down. A separate officer approached me. Apparently this officer wanted me to stand up, but I was so shaken I didn't understand him. He then just grabbed me and pulled me behind the doors.

And now I was handcuffed with plastic ties.


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