Three busloads of Culpeper-area residents and others from Central Virginia journeyed to Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to join the many thousands of people participating in the Save America Rally to “demand transparency and protect election integrity” on the day Congress was set to approve the 2020 election results.
About 120 people rode in the buses chartered by the Culpeper County Republican Committee, leaving at 8:30 a.m. and returning at 6 p.m., committee Chair Marshall Keene said via email Wednesday evening. They came from Culpeper, Fauquier, Orange, Louisa, Albemarle, Fredericksburg and the Shenandoah Valley.
The local attendees took part in the rally on the capital’s National Mall and the grounds of the U.S. Capitol, Keene said. He said he could not attend the event.
“Many committee members experienced the overwhelming support of President Trump with like-minded conservatives throughout the country in an effort to express the disdain for the apparent voter fraud that has infiltrated our election process,” Keene said.
In the early afternoon, a mob stormed the Capitol. Protesters occupied Vice President Pence’s place on the dais of the Senate chamber and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office desk. One woman, a Trump protester entering the Capitol, was shot and killed by Capitol Police. Three other people died in the fracas, including a woman and a man who suffered medical emergencies, law enforcement officials said. A 55-year-old Trump supporter from Alabama collapsed as he stood with other protesters on the Capitol’s west side, talking with his wife on the phone, The New York Times reported.
After Trump supporters pushed through Capitol and D.C. police defenses and breached the Capitol, acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller deployed the D.C. National Guard to secure the area around the Capitol, he said in a statement.
FBI agents arrived in camouflage, bearing shields and machine guns, to help secure the building and the public. District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a nighttime curfew on the city, and later extended the district’s state of public emergency for 15 days, until after President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Inauguration Day.
Keene, a member of the Culpeper County School Board and a deputy with the county Sheriff’s Office, said the vast majority of demonstrators acted properly.
“Ninety-nine percent of the individuals expressed their views in an orderly fashion,” he said. “... (T)hat 1 percent of bad actors who crossed the line does not represent what we believe as Republicans.
“President Trump is not responsible for the 1 percent of those who broke the law,” Keene added. “He clearly expressed and directed people to gather peacefully.
“Culpeper Republicans will continue to stay the course in 2021 and do everything in our wheelhouse to elect Republicans at the local, state and national levels,” he said. “Culpeper Republicans have become the gold standard in the state for the work done to support conservative principles. I urge all Republicans to get involved and be a part of the process to put conservative officials in office at all levels of government.”