Updated: Aug 25, 2021
On January 6, 2021, at approximately 0700 hours, I arrived at the Wiehle-Reston Metro station in Virginia. I began looking for parking and saw a group of approximately 10 men who looked like they were Trump supporters walking in the parking garage. I asked them if they knew how to get to the train and they said they were just as lost as I was.
Something felt really safe about this group and, since I was traveling alone and had had a previous hostile encounter on this train, I asked them if they minded if I tagged along with them. They readily agreed and said they would wait for me as I parked.
On the way to DC, I learned these men were all from MN and that N, whose birthday was that day, was the one to coordinate the group trip. He had called everyone on Sunday to see if they wanted to go and they all drove out on Monday. I also learned they had all had a group prayer that morning before heading out. Remember? I knew these guys felt safe!
Most of the guys were probably in their late 20s or early 30s except for D, N’s dad, who was probably in his 60s maybe? I know he and his wife had been married for 35 years. Throughout the day, they would protectively joke about me being their adopted sister for the day. They were all super respectful and protective and were constantly checking to make sure they had not lost me. I could not have asked for better protection. God truly answered that prayer and I do believe meeting them was a divine appointment. Even D made the comment that he thought the Holy Spirit led me to them.
We got off the train at Metro Center and walked to The Ellipse where President Trump was supposed to speak at some point. The walk was uneventful other than N buying a large, yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flag as a birthday gift for himself. He had it attached to 2 PVC pipes making it a bit taller than most of the other flags. This came in quite handy when trying to find our group at times.
We took a spot in the field between the Washington monument and the main stage approximately ¾ of the way back from the main stage. There seemed to be hundreds of thousands of people there. Some were even in the trees to get a better view. It was totally peaceful.
Most everyone was wearing something relating to Trump and/or carrying flags. Quite a few, however, did not fit the Trump supporter profile. For example, there was “Fletcher.” Fletcher stopped in front of our group to tie his shoe, which kind of looked like a dancer’s boot. Fletcher did not look like your normal Trump Supporter, even though he was wearing a “Trump 2020” scarf. This guy reeked of Antifa, so I asked him if I could help him tie his shoe. He was having a hard time doing it with all the gear he had on but said he was fine and thanked me and we began to talk.
Fletcher was carrying a uni wheel with a handi-capped sticker on the side. He said the sticker was just so he could take it on trains, which is deceptive to say the least. Fletcher was wearing a heavy duty, black, matte helmet that covered his jaw and chin. He was also wearing a white medical mask underneath the helmet. Fletcher was wearing knee pads and chin guards over his jeans and had a heavy looking back pack with a GoPro fastened to it. As we talked, Fletcher lifted up his black and white checkered flannel shirt to show me the chest protection he had. It did not look like Kevlar but it was a form of hard, thick, material that would easily protect someone who was being hit. Fletcher was prepared for something.
As we talked, Fletcher said he was from California, but was going to school in Savannah. I asked him if he was going to SCAD and he said he was, but that it was tough having to take online art classes. (I had been offered a scholarship to SCAD when I was in high-school and declined. On my journey from CO to NH, I made it a point to stop by the college to get a little bit of an idea of what I might have missed. It turns out Savannah and SCAD are both extremely liberal and I felt I made the right decision as I would have been miserable there.) Fletcher was not one of us and clearly seemed to be there to cause trouble.
As the President was speaking, I noticed several people in the audience leaving to head toward the Capitol. Our group was all paying close attention to what we were seeing and all noticing how those people did not fit the Trump supporter profile. We saw people dressed all in black, with one piece of MAGA attire, wearing backpacks and using radios like you would find at a sporting goods store. Guys with man-buns (definitely not your typical conservative) were leaving carrying these radios. Sloppy, unkempt people with backpacks and radios were leaving. The people leaving before the speech ended were not your normal conservatives, for the most part.
President Trump’s speech ended at exactly 1:11pm and the rest of the crowd began walking to the Capitol. On our way to the Capitol, news began to make its way through the crowd that Pence had tweeted a letter stating he would not reject the electoral votes as we had hoped. This was incredibly disheartening to the crowd, but everyone remained peaceful as we continued walking. The most aggressive thing that happened was the chant, “Do your job!” as we passed the Department of Justice building.
As we approached the Capitol grounds, I noticed there was really almost nothing in place to keep anyone off the front lawn. What was there was a small, green, plastic snow barrier fence, that was maybe 3 feet high. The fencing had one small sign that was hard to see saying to stay off the lawn. There was not much of a fence line at all and most of the fence had been folded back neatly leaving most of the grounds open. The fence wasn’t trampled down. It was opened up. It seemed extremely odd to me. Why wouldn’t there be steel or concrete barriers in place if they wanted people to stay off the lawn? There seemed to be only 10-20 feet of fencing in place and you would not know it was there if you walked onto the lawn from any other way that I could see. This was strange.
When we arrived, police began spraying the crowd with tear gas. I, personally, never saw any reason for it other than to maybe try to disperse the crowd. This did not last long and I thought it was weird that they would stop, before their goal was met. It was not long after they stopped that people began running up the steps of the Capitol and onto the balconies. The police seemed to have backed off and were not doing anything to protect the Capitol.
As the crowd moved forward, S, who had been helping carry someone’s massive flag and flag pole, said he was not comfortable taking the flag any further up. The flag’s owner continued on with it and took it up the stairs onto the balcony, as we watched. S, D, J, and I decided to stay put and not get any closer to the Capitol. We were close enough to have tasted the tear gas earlier but not really be affected by it. The others in the group wandered around. Two went up the stairs and one went inside.
As we were watching, we heard reports the Capitol had been breached then later heard the Senate floor had, as well. There were mixed feelings of patriotism and disdain. We were appalled as we heard reports of people trying to break the windows and doing other damage.
As people were leaving, we heard first-hand reports of actual Trump supporters trying to get people to stop being destructive.
The guy in our group who did go inside told us the police literally moved barriers to let them in. He said it was like the police were giving them a pass. Once inside, he said he and others were telling people who were trying to break the windows, “This is not how we do things!” He said there was a row of police inside, but there were several people behind them running around being destructive who did NOT look like Trump supporters.
He told us the police were really easy going and just let the people who had entered leave without any conflict. He even thanked the police as he left and I think even fist-bumped one, if I remember correctly. He said no one took names or info and there were no arrests. There were none of the procedures you would think would take place in any similar situation. Inside the nation’s Capitol, the police were easy going and gave everyone a pass. Does that make sense? The Capitol should be one of the most protected places in the nation and it was basically open. We even heard the rumor that the Pentagon refused to deploy the National Guard to the scene.
As our group re-formed, we decided it was time to leave. On our way out, we ran across a man talking about witnessing Ashli Babbit getting shot. From his description, it sounded like there was a man breaking glass to get through and open the door as about 200 people pushed behind him. I did not catch all of it, but it sounded like he was saying he thought the guy trying to break through was Antifa.
We continued back toward the train and T had the idea that we should spend about 15 minutes picking up trash around the Washington Monument. We did that for more like half an hour and then headed to the train.
On the ride back, we briefly encountered a group of people who had been on the balcony when the police officer was injured. He said he saw people who were NOT Trump supporters kicking the officer and he grabbed his hand to help pull him to safety. He was obviously shaken and said that’s when they decided to “GTHO” since things were no longer peaceful.
*Update: The above story was written the morning after the event. I intentionally refused to watch or listen to any news media before writing it so my memories would not be tainted by any other reports. To hear this event later compared to the genocide in Rwanda is disgraceful, manipulative, and over-the-top dramatic by the same people who condoned the destruction of multiple cities across the nation by BLM and Antifa.