WTF Just Happened?

A crowd formed outside the White House early on Wednesday, Jan. 6, to hear remarks from President Donald Trump, who continued to lie to supporters and said Congress was about to fraudulently certify the presidential election result showing he lost. “Never concede,” he said. By mid-afternoon, members of the mob – many of whom were armed – broke down doors, shattered windows and rammed through barricades to breach the Capitol, forcing Congress to adjourn and shelter.

JOHN PHILLIPS, Republican member of the nonpartisan Monterey County Board of Supervisors. (He is the highest-ranking elected Republican in Monterey County.)

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

In some ways, it’s even worse than 9/11 in that the attack is coming from within. It just makes you really sad. You get angry too, but you get really sad.

What happened is not a Republican or Democrat thing, it’s an American thing. No one can condone that or justify that or think it’s a good thing, the encouragement the president gave the people.

Admittedly, I’m not a Trump Republican, I’m a Republican. The biggest problem I saw of the Trump presidency is how he really divided our country like we’ve never seen before, except during Vietnam—I remember going to the airports in a uniform, and what we went through. 

Trump had an opportunity to pull our country together during the Covid crisis and Black Lives Matter, and his rhetoric further divided.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

I don’t think there’s a question, yes they should be prosecuted. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t have the wherewithal or the will to arrest them as they were coming out.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

You have the people that did it, but [not] without the president’s encouragement. I think he could’ve stopped it, and he didn’t. Nothing the president said discouraged them or set boundaries. He got so obsessed about ego and winning, he lost perspective.

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

I don’t know. Hopefully he just steps down and does nothing. If we go through the 25th Amendment or another impeachment, that may just encourage some of his ardent followers even more and further divide the country.

Do you believe that the election was “stolen?” If yes, based on what evidence?

Clearly, I don’t and I never did.

It’s hard for Republicans not to support their president, but I think at some point in time, they had to walk away from this big conspiracy theory, there was no evidence to support it at all. The longer this thing went on, the more robust the president got with this theory. They can be faulted from not walking away sooner.

Did you vote by mail? 

I have never voted by mail, except this time with Covid because my kids are on me all the time about I’m out too much.

I don’t know whether I will again. To me—I’m old-school—it’s just more patriotic to go. I like standing in line, saying hello to the poll workers. That’s just the way I’ve always done it. It’s just different.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer?

Some of those got violent too. But this violence didn’t seem to be where you start a demonstration and then people get cranked up and it gets out of hand; these people seemed calculated to move in a violent direction. So I don’t see them as protesters, I see them as thugs and angry insurrectionists.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country? What steps should President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take?

You could tell [lawmakers] were shook up. The only positive thing I see coming from this is, they say, “We stuck with the president too long.” It helped pull the Congress together. Maybe we can do the same thing with pulling the country together now. This is maybe a defining point for us.

At the local level, party affiliation doesn’t mean anything, we get in there and do things. The angry politics that you see in Washington – I don’t see it exists here, or maybe I’m oblivious to it. My colleagues and I, we disagree on some things but we work together.

 

PAUL BRUNO, former chair of the Monterey County Republican Party, delegate to the state GOP.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

I’m very saddened. I think it’s not indicative of Republicans and not indicative of Trump supporters. I’ve seen Trump supporters in person and there are a lot of families with children at his rallies. What happened is not what I expect to see from the people I know.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

I believe they should be prosecuted but I do not know what particular laws should apply. Some definitely did worse things than others.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events?

I’m not sure who is really responsible. I think a lot of information will come out about those who participated and I think it’s important to wait until we know those facts.

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

The president is no longer going to be our president in a couple of weeks. He’s already facing his consequences.

Do you believe that the election was “stolen?”

I believe there are serious questions about the elections and I hope at some point we will know the answers as to what happened. There are aspects that don’t make sense statistically and that leads me to believe there could be issues. But my biggest concern right now is the lack of curiosity about potential problems and that really has me bothered.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer?

I don’t condone any violence. I do notice that no one set fires, no one looted, no one stole televisions or cleaned out the hardware store.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country?

I think we all need to take a breath and step back from the ledge. That means nothing drastic from either side. You should never take quick and drastic action, you should take time to give it serious thought before proceeding.

 

SAM FARR, retired Democratic representative who represented the Central Coast in Congress from 1993-2016.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

I spent 24 years in that Capitol building and I was appalled and in tears. I recognize every room that the cameras were showing. And I was angry as hell, that every one of those people ought to be arrested. I just couldn’t believe that it was happening.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

Yes, but I think you have to check that word. The problem as I recall is that we really don’t have a law to cover domestic terrorism. I’m not sure about that—I heard a debate last night on television about that, that the problem is that we don’t have the ability to charge people under that category. But yes. 

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

I hold all of the [147] Republican House members who supported, first of all, the lawsuit, and then supported the motions to not certify the election. And certainly the eight U.S. senators as well. I hold them accountable.

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

Ideally they ought to remove him from office, either using the 25th Amendment or impeachment. But frankly I don’t think there’s enough time to go through the procedural requirements to do that in two weeks.

To the marchers at the Capitol?

Put every one of them on a no-fly list, they can never get on an airplane again in their life.

Do you believe that the election was “stolen?” 

No! Not at all.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer?

Absolutely. I think this has been a wake-up call for white America, which has been able to compare the reactions. It was a cultural bias, the way Washington and the Capitol Police responded.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country?

Well, you’re familiar with the expression that all politics is local. And it’s real. Everybody who is in Congress… they’re all from home. Everybody who is in leadership is from somewhere else. And you realize that what you’re doing there is all sort of the top surface of democracy. But like the ocean, the real foundation for all that water is the bottom, the floor.

The real democracy in America is our own backyard. I tell people that you can change the world by doing something local. So if you are angry about Washington, look around your own neighborhood. And realize that if we are going to help the Biden administration and this country get itself back together again, it’s going to have to be done on a community and neighborhood basis. We’re going to have to listen to people who are not like us. And hopefully, if they know we’re listening, they’re going to listen back.

 

KAREN ARAUJO, chair of the Monterey County Democratic Party.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

It’s heartbreaking, infuriating, sad and disgusting. The first time I saw the images I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

I hold the president responsible based on the words he uttered prior to their march down Pennsylvania Avenue. It was the president that urged them to march to the Capitol and said that he would “be with them.”

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

Of course, they were committing acts of insurrection. 

Marchers I would distinguish from rioters. I support marchers and they should have no consequences. 

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

I hold the president responsible based on the words he uttered prior to their march down Pennsylvania Avenue. It was the president that urged them to march to the Capitol and said that he would “be with them.”

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

We as a nation need to take whatever steps are available in making sure he’s not in the position of doing further harm. The only way we can do that is to remove him from office. That will not stop people from being influenced by what he has to say, but it will remove the prestige and the access to the media – the megaphone. It will lessen the harm he’s capable of doing.

Do you believe that the election was “stolen?”

I believe the election was prevented from being stolen. There was a degree of integrity, scrutiny and care of the highest caliber taken in this election. Monterey County election officials are due the highest respect and admiration for the steps they took to prevent election fraud. So believe them. I do not believe what the president has said of this election.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer? 

I see the violence done to protesters to be different. Last summer, I witnessed a nation that came alive with passion scream from the rooftops that Black Lives Matter and acknowledge the systemic racism in this country. But I also witnessed those peaceful protesters being treated with undue force. What I saw on Jan. 6 were people shoving, arguing, disregarding orders from law enforcement. I saw little to no response from law enforcement and that’s unacceptable. 

How do we move forward from here and unite the country?

[Biden and Harris] should take the step they’ve said they were going to take in leading this nation. For four years, there has been no commitment in leading this nation, there has been a disdain for the government and its purpose.

We need not be so hateful moving forward. Let’s talk policy, let’s talk next steps, let’s talk forward movement. Let’s move away from valuing getting nothing done.

 

VINZ KOLLER, former chair of the Monterey County Democratic Party and a member of the Electoral College in 2008, 2016 and 2020.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

It was an unprecedented sacrilege. A sitting president incited violence and a takeover of the Capitol – at the very moment when his election results were to be confirmed – simply because he didn’t like those results. I was particularly moved as I watched the boxes containing the Electoral College ballots being carried out of harm’s way, since one of those boxes contained the ballot that I myself had cast on Dec. 14 to represent my community. I was relieved to see the House and Senate complete their task later that night, that the rule of law prevailed in the end.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

They should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The charges should include sedition, which applies to those who “by force prevent, hinder or delay the execution” of any U.S. law. In addition, those who incited this violence should also be charged with inciting a riot and civil disorder. It is critically important that those who were responsible are held accountable, partly because many seem not to understand the magnitude of what they did. This process should be helped by the gleeful selfies they took while desecrating the halls of Congress.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the insurrection? Why?

We all saw how the president and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, incited the crowds that very morning. So, clearly they are responsible; but they are not alone. So are the Republican senators and representatives who fed the incendiary fiction of a stolen election and who – even after the resulting siege – stoked that fire by claiming they must invalidate “stolen” votes.

And finally, so is everyone who has failed to hold this president accountable for any and all of his prior criminal acts. They all had an opportunity to hold him accountable when he abused the power of his office to bribe a foreign head of state into intervening in the presidential election.

Had they followed the law then, and convicted him during the impeachment trial, the storming of the Capitol would not have taken place. 

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

He should be removed from office and investigated for sedition. We cannot have the head of one branch of government incite a mob against another branch. It is such an egregious breach of our constitutional form of government that there are no other remedies that fit the crime.

Do you agree that the election was “stolen?” 

Of course it was not stolen. This was not a close election by any standard and it was duly certified by all the local jurisdictions and states that ran them. None of the lawsuits the Trump campaign filed to try to gain ground in his vote count met court standards of evidence. 

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer? 

The overwhelming number of protests last summer were peaceful, they were a sustained attempt to uncover societal injustices, and they were spontaneous expressions of support for disempowered victims of systemic abuse. What happened Jan. 6 at the Capitol was the opposite. The rioters were armed with weapons and bombs, injuring many police officers, they briefly turned a democratic act of their own elected representatives into a deadly tyranny, and they were organized at the behest of the most powerful man in the world.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country?

Unity cannot come from one party. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have called for unity since before they were elected and they have acted forcefully for a unified response to the threats we all face – first and foremost the threat of Covid-19. However, as long as fear of the Trump base leads the party, it will limit the capacity of the Republican Party. Whether they can break free from this stranglehold remains to be seen.

 

LEON PANETTA, former Democratic congressman representing the Central Coast and former director of the CIA and Secretary of Defense who served under President Barack Obama.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

I’ve been in public service for over 50 years, and never in my life did I ever imagine I would see a violent takeover of the United States Capitol by a mob. Not only taking over the Capitol, but stopping our democracy from functioning. This is a clear reminder of how fragile our democracy is.

It’s always been fragile but over the last four years, our democracy has been tested more than it’s been in a very long time, in terms of whether or not the institutions established by our Constitution can survive. A dangerous line was crossed. It’s a serious event. And it can either inspire our better angels, or it can empower our worst instincts.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

The responsibility lies, first and foremost, with the president of the United States and the lies that he has been projecting to the country and to his supporters, particularly about our national election. There is no evidence of fraud or abuse. Nevertheless, he continued to say that he had won. And by continuing that lie to his supporters, he created the atmosphere that came together on [Jan. 6]. That morning he lit the match that produced the explosion that took place.

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

He lost the election. That’s number one. Number two, there ought to be investigations conducted about whether there was incitement to this kind of attack by the president. And, obviously, an investigation into the mob itself.

To the marchers at the Capitol?

The Justice Department and the FBI need to look at it in terms of federal violations and I think that the Congress has a responsibility to put together an investigation. We must learn the lessons of what took place, and make sure it never happens again.

Do you believe that the election was “stolen?”

The thing that I worry about the most is that all of what took place was based on a lie. Throughout history, lies have been used by dictators and tyrants to achieve power. It was a lie that drove Nazi Germany. And it was a lie that produced Jim Crow laws and slavery in this country.

A lie can be used to convince people that something happened that did not happen and make people believe something that simply is not true. That is a very dangerous moment for the country.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer? 

Well, there is no comparison. I mean, look, we do have free speech in this country. We have the right to protest. But we also recognize that that without any form of protest has to abide by the law, and cannot involve criminal activity. That's the fundamental difference that there is a difference between peaceful protests—between acknowledging something that has some substance to it in terms of what people are arguing they're concerned about—and conducting a violent attack, based on a lie. 

The very people who have accused Black Lives Matter protests and allowing protests to get out of hand have said very little about the kind of protests we saw, and the kind of violence we saw, and the kind of property destruction we saw.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country?

It is absolutely critical that we secure the Capitol of the United States, and make sure that this does not happen again. When you’ve crossed this kind of line, there are people that feel empowered to do the same thing over again. That’s number one.

Number two, I think Joe Biden understands that this country is deeply polarized, and has spoken to the importance of trying to bring Americans together, to understand that we are in the United States of America, not a divided States of America. The problems that we’re facing are problems that have to be addressed in order to make sure that everybody feels like the American Dream belongs to them.

 

ANTHONY WALKER, co-founder of the group Monterey Bay Patriots, which hosts pro-Trump rallies, including one in Monterey on Jan. 6.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

Monterey Bay Patriots will always support Americans rallying together to peacefully and safely protest. We condemn the violence that took place at our nation’s Capitol and pray for the families who are grieving over the loss of their loved ones.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

Anyone who participated in violence at our nation’s Capitol should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. Desecrating our nation’s capital is equivalent to burning the American flag.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

The only people responsible for what happened this week are the people who directly participated in the violence and chose to mutilate our country’s symbol of freedom.

What should be the consequences for President Trump?

There was one major consequence on Jan. 6, the Senate did not get to fulfill their constitutional duty to fully debate the certification of the electoral count.

The consequences to the marchers at the Capitol?

We need to be able to rely on our justice system to thoroughly investigate everything that took place that day.

Do you believe that the election was “stolen”? If yes, based on what evidence?

The violence at the Capitol does not dismiss the fact that there was mass voter fraud in the 2020 election. There are hundreds of sworn affidavits of poll watchers who witnessed several types of voter fraud firsthand. The states that ratified their election laws before Nov. 3 are also complicit in covering up voter fraud and did not investigate. There are more questions that need to be answered.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer?

Last summer, we witnessed carnage all across our country. We saw Antifa and BLM protesters burn down cities and take over police precincts. Antifa is a domestic terrorist organization and should be brought to justice. What we saw at the Capital was disgraceful and is no different from the violence that we saw last year. Those who violently protested should also be brought to justice. 

How do we move forward from here and unite the country?

We are the United States of America. This country is too precious to let cripple in division. The events that transpired this week will forever be engraved in our nation’s history. Americans must reflect and never let it get to this point again.

What steps should President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take?

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should condemn all actions of violence to our nation. They played a big role in setting a negative precedent last year in not condemning Antifa.

 

ANNA CABALLERO, a Democratic state senator and former mayor from Salinas.

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover?

It was appalling. I was busy the entire day on Zoom calls so I didn’t know what was happening until I got home. And to see the news reports and to see how it rolled out was very very sad for me.

I’m not surprised that the chiefs have been fired, or asked to leave. We got a memo the day before advising us that the (California state) Capitol will be closed even to essential workers because there was an unpermitted demonstration going on and CHP didn’t want staff injured, so we knew something was up in our own Capitol and prepared for it – so when I saw it unfold at our U.S. Capitol, that there was dereliction of duty, if not a cooperation with the mob outside.

People forget that our capitols are historical museums, but they’re also offices. So you have people working in those offices and for them to be subjected to mob invasion is pretty scary. There’s nowhere to go, all you can do is lock the door.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

I think they should. The people who entered forcefully should all be prosecuted. It’s one thing to peacefully protest, it’s another thing to break in and do damage. This was not just an “I’m opposed to something” demonstration, this was an effort to stop a process that is constitutionally required in order to have a peaceful transition of government. And frankly I think it’s anti-American and it is sedition. This is a direct attack on democracy.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

I hold the president responsible, he’s the one who’s been asking people to do this. I also blame the Republican Party, those people who have been inciting the public with lies. We have to call it what it is. They’ve (Trump supporters) been told a lie. And part of what a democracy demands is that we at least be honest about what we’re doing.

What should be the consequences to President Trump? 

If he had a really strong cabinet, which he doesn't, they should invoke the 25th Amendment. But they won't do that, they’re jumping ship. He should be impeached. I think he should resign but I know he won’t. We need to make it very clear we will not tolerate tyrants and seditionists who seek to overthrow our Constitution. He violated his oath. To me, it’s very clear.

What should be the consequences to the marchers at the Capitol?

I was appalled there were no arrests. And some of the footage that I saw were rioters pushing and shoving police officers. I’ve never seen that before. Frankly you look at what happened during the BLM protests, the one in front of the White House where protesters were treated entirely differently. It was a huge failure of leadership among the (Capitol Police). 

How do we move forward from here and unite the country? What steps should Biden and Harris take? 

I wish I had the answer for that. Part of the challenge we have is that people don’t even agree what the facts are. And facts matter. And words matter, which is why I hold Donald Trump responsible for this debacle.

Everything has become politicized, even the Covid-19 virus. Part of what I want to see happen is we have to spend more time teaching our students – who will grow up to be voters – they need to understand how our democracy works. If you don’t understand how it works, you won’t know how to protect it.

President-elect Biden has experience working across the aisle, as do I, so I hope he brings Republicans in and has a conversation about how to heal this country.

 

JEFF GORMAN, a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress District 20 in 2020, an election he lost to Democrat Jimmy Panetta. 

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 insurrection, riot and takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

Insurrection? I don’t know. I think it’s certainly a protest and I don’t know who the actors are who were first in. I’m listening to a guy who gave recorded testimony. He entered but said, “if there were barricades they had been removed.” I don’t know if there was a group of people trying to lead a Fidel Castro-like thing, or if there was a mob psychology thing. It’s hard to know.

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

I don’t know. I would say that for most of them probably not, but I don’t close out the possibility there are people seriously bordering on that definition. I tend toward wanting fairly strict law and order, so I’m OK with that, but I would point out the hypocrisy (of) rioters at BLM protests, including where protesters were killed, were routinely dismissed without any charges at all.

And we’re seeing DAs in California up and down the state reluctant to prosecute a number of crimes…we’re seeing a laxness. A public well informed they will get stiff penalties tends to follow the law.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the attempted coup? Why?

So, I’m not aware of any organization that was trying to perform a coup. In my limited experience with the word, it would be like the Turkish military taking over their government or something like that. Usually when there’s a coup it includes an effective control and understanding of the function of government, so I would be very careful using that word.

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

I haven’t reviewed the things he said. I guess he gave a speech while I was at work but I haven’t reviewed that, and I haven’t reviewed his speech in Georgia and you know, my perception is that a very big chunk of this country is feeling unheard and mistreated. So to discount Mr. Trump and his concerns is dismissive of a very substantial portion of the American population.

I would urge caution in laying blame. I remember feeling in regard to Mr. Obama that the Ferguson riots and other riots were instigated by him but I never considered calling on the 25th Amendment to question his sanity. I suppose one could make that case.

What should be the consequences to the perpetrators at the Capitol?

I don’t know. I would encourage the criminal investigation to go forward and I wouldn't presume to comment on that.

Do you agree that the election was “stolen?” If yes, based on what evidence?

That’s a complex question. I think we have had serious problems with our electoral process in the past few decades. Beginning with Al Gore in 2000, onto Hillary Clinton and Jill Stein in 2016 and ballot harvesting in California and Georgia in 2019. The losing candidate for Georgia governor still claims her election was stolen. Nationally, there are enough irregularities that I was ready for Congress to go to the 12th Amendment procedures.

Did you vote by mail?

I did. I even did a Facebook Live thing about it.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer?

In the big picture, I see it as very similar in that the American population is not happy with governance, but of course there are subtle differences. I think in one case, it’s a feeling of racial disparity and in the other case it's more of an insider-outsider kind of difference. But they both involve have-vs.-have-not sentiment.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country? What steps should President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take?

Besides resign? Tongue in cheek, tongue in cheek.

I can't even really answer that for them. As far as the first thing goes, what I can do and you can do and what any person can do is try to give people the benefit of the doubt and stop finding flaws with everyone you disagree with.

I think we’re going to go forward OK. But here’s a rule to live by: If you see someone committing violence against a police officer, get out of there. Don't engage in physical violence and respect lawful orders.

 

VICKI NOHRDEN, a Republican candidate for California State Senate District 17 in 2020, a race she lost to Democrat John Laird. 

Nohdren provided one written statement instead of answering each question.

Fellow Americans should be very concerned about what’s been taking place across our nation this past year in Minnesota, Portland and now in Washington, D.C. There’s a clear difference between a riot and a peaceful protest that exercises freedom to assemble and freedom of speech verses violence, looting and destruction. I don’t support tearing down and destroying national monuments, looting, setting fire to and destroying people’s businesses, taking over cities, stealing peoples personal property, destroying government property or encouraging false media narratives. 

We are a nation of laws and when we become lawless and without accountability we’ve lost our republic and freedom as we’ve known it. America is at a crossroads of her freedom and how we move forward will determine our future. Government has boundaries and should be by the people and for the people not one of control and corruption. It should not be about party politics, or is it?

 

JOHN GAGLIOTI, a Democratic member of the nonpartisan Del Rey Oaks City Council. 

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

I think it is absolutely shameful and that the president was derelict in his capacity. Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of the election, the foundation of this country is based on a smooth and peaceful transition of power. It’s the cornerstone of our democracy.

There have been concerns that Trump has a tendency to be dictatorial and it seemed to play out that way. He made no attempt to placate them. In fact, he seemed to embolden them. It looks like Pence is the one who stepped up to engage the national guard. It was a complete embarrassment. Trump should be ashamed of himself. 

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

That’s a slippery slope. Another cornerstone of our democracy is free assembly and the ability to challenge our government. When it got out of hand and they broke the law—I think there should be consequences for that. I don’t discount free assembly—the protesters had every right to assemble but that right was breached when they began to break in and threaten members of Congress.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the events of Jan. 6? Why?

I hold responsible the leadership and Donald Trump. He has full responsibility for everything that happened and he actively enticed this group. This has been a dog whistle that he has been blowing since he was elected. He has always hidden behind the dog whistle. He’s not always explicit, but everyone knows what is going on. 

What should be the consequences to President Trump? 

The Cabinet should throw him out. This is what the 25th Amendment was crafted for. 

To the perpetrators at the Capitol?

If they broke the law, they should stand to pay the full consequences.

Do you agree that the election was “stolen?” If yes, based on what evidence?

That’s been completely refuted. It’s been shot down by a number of Trump-appointed judges.  

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer? 

I think that both assemblies were warranted and a great example of how our democracy allows people to protest. In both cases, there are those who go and have a different agenda and some of that plays out. It doesn’t discount the right to assemble. It only takes a few bad apples. 

How do we move forward from here and unite the country? What steps should President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take? 

I have watched at the local level for the last four years the polarization of politics. In little Del Rey Oaks, we are so polarized. I don’t know how we are going to patch up the divide even here.

We are in a really sad place right now. We do need to heal. I don’t know what the answer is. You know what has worked in other times? When there is some crisis? Something we can focus on. You would think it would be the pandemic, but that got politicized. 

 

BOBBY RICHARDS, a Republican member of the nonpartisan Carmel City Council. 

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 events at the U.S. Capitol?

As a citizen, I was deeply saddened and concerned. As a veteran, I was angry and wanted to help the brave, unprepared and outnumbered officers. As a patriot, I was proud of our elected officials. Despite the atrocities that took place, they completed the job. 

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

My understanding of domestic terrorism is: When on domestic soil, the use of violence to persuade or intimate a government in order to achieve a desired political objective. It seems very apparent that was exactly the intention of this group. If my understanding is correct, my answer is “yes.”  Now, I believe it is up to the Attorney General to make a decision. 

Whom do you hold responsible? Why?

I would like to say I hold each and every individual responsible for their own actions. Although an event like this didn’t manifest overnight. The president invited and encouraged his supporters to show up at the Capitol steps. He used words and slogans that tapped into the anger and aggression, he set the stage for violence. People like [presidential adviser Rudy] Giuliani, [Senator Ted] Cruz and [Donald] Trump Jr. ultimately encouraged, acting as cheerleaders. [Senator] Josh Hawley waved the green flag.

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

I do not want to speculate or decide what the consequences should or will be. We have a democracy, a system in our government.  I believe in it. I trust justice will be served and we will become stronger for it. Every test makes us smarter and wiser. We have a Constitution and a Bill of Rights, that is and what always has been what makes our country "great."

To the perpetrators at the Capitol?

These individuals should be held accountable for every single crime they committed. I would like to see them held responsible for everything from defacing public property to the murder of a police officer. There is no excuse for this madness. I think peaceful protest are an important part of our democracy. I do not want the word "protest" to strike fear in the minds of citizens. 

Do you agree that the election was “stolen”?

No, I trust our system. As is with everything there is always room for improvement and I am always open to hear and discuss new ideas.

Did you vote by mail?

Yes, I do.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer? 

Violence is violence. No, I do not consider breaking windows, stealing or murder lees offensive or more offensive depending on the circumstances. When violence comes into play, the message is immediately lost.

Peaceful protesting is a powerful tool. It can bring forward conversation and solutions. If met with empathy or a willingness to understand great progress can be made. When a message with a desired outcome deteriorates from conversation to breaking the law, the law wins.

How do we move forward from here and unite the country? What steps should President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take? 

Individual responsibility. We all have to do our best to listen to the other side. Be reasonable and show empathy for one another. Challenge ourselves to find one small point the other side is explaining and then build on that. Listen to the concerns of all. Do not pander to a base, be the president of, to and for the United States.

 

CHRIS BARRERA, a Democratic candidate who ran for Salinas mayor in 2020, and president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Post 2055. 

These questions were directed to Barrera, but answers were provided on behalf of LULAC Post 2055. 

What is your reaction to the Jan. 6 insurrection, riot and takeover of the U.S. Capitol?

Shock and disgust. The shock comes from the lack of security at such an event, the allowance of collusive behavior stemming from a temper tantrum, and the level of damage caused as a result. The disgust is in response to the true attitude and culture of false entitlement that has been supported into fruition—this culture is what divides us.

What makes matters worse is that had any other marginalized group done anything similar to what happened Jan. 6, there would have been substantially more security, more violent response from security, and more dead and hurt as a result of it (like in the BLM protest back in June). Why were they allowed to invade this institution, threaten even more violence to authority, and boast about it to the media? 

Should the rioters arrested be charged under the laws of domestic terrorism?

Absolutely. The definition of terrorism is the unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims. That is exactly what happened.

Whom do you hold responsible for inciting the riot? Why? 

Donald Trump directly declared, "You don't concede when there's theft involved [suggesting that the results of last year's election were fraudulent]. Our country has had enough and we will not take it anymore. And we fight. We fight like hell and if you don't fight like hell, or you're not going to have a country anymore." 

But the directive came from, "we're going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, I love Pennsylvania Avenue, and we're going to the Capitol and we're going to try." If that's not an order, then we don't know what is. 

What should be the consequences to President Trump?

Federal charges should be brought and his rights as president should be removed immediately. He is and never was supportive to the country as a whole. His administration was based on his own personal interests in power. This was only the cap to it all.

Do you agree that the election was “stolen?” If yes, based on what evidence?

This election was no more stolen than Mr. Trump's own election nor that of George W. Bush's. The only difference now is the "loss" received by the other end of the political spectrum. The extremists that represent this loss received it childishly and recklessly.

This recklessness is the very reason why the Electoral College was founded in the first place.

Do you consider the violence different from the protests against police brutality last summer?

The true difference between last summer and now is clear as day. This was a group of privileged conservative extremists, more obviously "Good Ol' Boy" white Americans, that was allowed to violently raid and riot without defense from the police force.

Meanwhile back in June, mixed groups of Americans, including different people of color, came together to demand equally the reduction of violence against Black Americans—to be responded with violence from the police force.

Is it not obvious now that racism in America is systemic and comes from the top down?

How do we move forward from here and unite the country? What steps should President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris take?

Even before Biden's inauguration, it is imperative to remove Trump from office immediately. He has proven how unfit he is as a president and a leader.

To unite, we all must recognize that a whole lot of damage has been caused, not just over the last four years, but over the last 300. We must realize how this nation was founded and our intentions weren't aligned with everyone in mind. We must acknowledge the loss of populations and generations founded on violence and we must all (the privileged and marginalized alike) come together to build each other up.

This will not be easy and will take so much longer than one presidential term. But it is crucial for Biden and Harris to start this process and to foster a message of faith and unity.

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(2) comments

maureen wruck

I’m sad for our my Country and angry at many Republicans for following Trump like “lemmings over a cliff”. They ignored their oath to the constitution and the American people. Many should resign. Court after Court found no evidence of fraud. I don’t suspect these courts were in collusion with one another. No evidence, a delusion President and Republicans who only seek to follow. May they fall soon.

Otis Needleman

Since we have no leaders, only office-holders, what these people say means nothing. The Dems stole the election. Period. Congress is just mad that they were found to be terrified of the people they have prided themselves believing they were masters of. When the American people came calling, congress hid like a bunch of little kids. Any protesters should be prosecuted on the same basis as the "protesters" in Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis - not at all. They were just exercising their First Amendment rights, same as those in Seattle, etc. I see no unity or healing, just continued anger. Look for a very bad four years coming up for the country.

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