EG Officials Weigh In Washington D.C. Mayhem

by | Jan 7, 2021

Members of the East Greenwich Town Council, all Democrats, spoke in unison Thursday decrying the rioting at and overrunning of the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. 

“I was surprised but it wasn’t unexpected,” said Council President Mark Schwager Thursday. “To see it played out was jarring but it was really the logical result of a progression of events that have been unfolding for months.”

Schwager was referring to President Donald Trump’s insistence even before the election that it was “rigged” and afterward his refusal to concede, culminating in his incitement of his supporters Wednesday morning to march on the U.S. Capitol. That march morphed into a riot, followed by an invasion of the capitol building, disrupting the legislators’ certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s election victory and forcing them, along staffers and reporters, into hiding.

During his remarks Wednesday, Trump said, “You will never take back our country with weakness.” 

“Nobody likes to lose but to encourage people to actively break in and disrupt the capitol building is wrong,” said Town Councilor Renu Englehart. “I have no problem with protesting. I do have a problem with them breaking in and vandalizing.”

Councilor Caryn Corenthal offered a vehement, “No!” when asked if she was surprised by what transpired at the Capitol Wednesday. “He warned you about it. Trump kept saying watch out for Jan. 6.” 

U.S. Capitol / Photo by Louis Velazquez on Unsplash

Corenthal said what she was surprised by was the unpreparedness of the Capitol police. The head of the Capitol police resigned Thursday.

Councilor Mike Zarrella said he thought what happened was surprising but predictable.

“It’s surprising he would go this low but certainly not unforeseeable,” Zarrella said of President Trump’s actions.  

“I really don’t understand why he would encourage them to behave like that,” said Englehart of the president. “That was stunning to watch on TV.”

Town Council Vice President Mike Donegan said there needed to be consequences for what happened.

“How do we prevent this on Inauguration Day?” he said, referring to Jan. 20, when Biden will be sworn in as the 46th president. “He will not go quietly and honorably so what do we need to do to protect the country?”

Donegan said he knew there was not enough time to get through a second Trump impeachment trial but that the deterrent factor was important to consider. 

“I believe it furthers the goal of general deterrence as our democracy tries to repair itself going forward,” he said.

Englehart said she wasn’t sure it was “worth it” to pursue impeachment. “I think we need to get past this president and move on to the things that can actually make this country better.” 

Zarrella, alternatively, said, “100 percent [Trump] should be impeached,” adding, “he orchestrated an attack on the U.S. so he could retain power.”

There are no elected Republican officials in East Greenwich currently. Former Town Council president Sue Cienki heads the state Republican Party. She retweeted a tweet by the Republican National Committee Wednesday that condemned the violence in the U.S. Capitol.

Top photo: Lloyd Wolf

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13 Comments

  1. Mathias Wilkinson

    Sorry that our local official don’t want to get the complete story first before condemning the president. It is being reported that Antifa may have started the riots. In support of this, many of the rioters were found to be carrying loaded weapons and devices such as molotov cocktails. This was obviously planned in advance. I’m disappointed in our Town Council. Perhaps we should consider impeaching them.

    Reply
    • C.J. Fluehr

      There is absolutely no evidence that the insurrection at the Capitol was driven by Antifa. Several of the more recognizable protesters have already been identified. One is a long time QAnon fanatic, another a white supremacist, yet another a MAGA champion from TX, and the list goes on and on. In many cases these people are identifying themselves, proud of what they did. This is no mystery, the vast majority of the people there, the force behind this insurrection, were there of their own accord after being urged on by the POTUS and his sycophants. They were attempting to delay or overturn the election results. Antifa would have to know that they’d be identified if they tried to do this under false premises to frame Trump supporters, and that would only damage their cause. Even if not well protected, the Capitol area has cameras everywhere and there were sure to be prosecutions coming out of something like this. If they planned it, they weren’t thinking at all. Is it possible that some small number of Antifa agitators infiltrated? Sure, that’s possible, though none have yet been positively identified. By contrast, dozens of people, identified by themselves or the media as Trump supporters, were there, the force behind that horrible display. I don’t understand why people are having a difficult time accepting this. We know they’re angry, Trump is angry, they said they wanted to do something, Trump told them to come to DC, then he and his people egged them on publicly that morning, and they did it. It really is that simple, and looking for conspiracy theories is a convenient way for people on that side of the fence from having to look in the mirror. I don’t condone anything any “left” groups like Antifa or BLM do when they cross the line from protest to vandalism or violence, and I don’t pretend that it wasn’t people I might somewhat agree with either. People on both sides need to be better at accepting that neither side is all good, the other all bad, and people on both sides are capable of the best, and the worst.

      Reply
      • Mathias Wilkinson

        They have identified some Antifa members. Unfortunately Trump supporters followed. However, the media wants to condemn all Trump supporters. When BLM and Antifa were burning and looting the media insisted that it was but a few and the protesters were mostly peaceful. Also President Trump, in his speech, urged the protesters to march to the capital in a “peaceful protest”. Yes, violence in wrong, but don’t blame this on Trump. Remember the response to the violence, burning and looting–SILENCE from those now calling for impeachment. HYPOCRITES!

        Reply
        • C.J. Fluehr

          I haven’t seen one reputable, non-partisan source identify anyone from Antifa. Mo Brooks and Matt Gaetz, not exactly neutral, and they didn’t cite specific sources either (last I checked). There are countless videos of Trump supporters at the barricades, breaking windows and doors. The woman who was tragically killed, attempting to breach the inner doors, ardent Trump supporter. They have conclusively identified QAnon and Proud Boys activists at every step of the incursion, but you think these people were following Antifa? No one is condemning “all” Trump supporters, we’re condemning those who crossed the line, and the POTUS and his people who urged them to do it. Trump never said anything about peaceful protest or condemning violence until after it happened. His morning rally was all railing against the election “stolen” from him by the “media and the Democrats,” saying he would never concede. He said they would stop the steal, called it a landslide win, etc, and he concluded by saying they were all going to walk down PA Ave. to the Capitol and give the “weak” Republicans the courage to what was right (overturn the election). This is after Giuliani used the words “trial by combat.” This isn’t egging them on? At one point the crowd was chanting “Fight for Trump.” Another quote from the speech “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” He says if Mike Pence, down the street at the Capitol “does the right thing” then they “win the election.” The entire speech was inflammatory, provoking exactly the response he got. This is absolutely Trump and his people’s fault. If he had wanted an orderly transition he could have been saying so all along. His words since November could have been what he finally said last night in an effort to save what reputation he has left. Had he given that speech a month ago, and not asked people to come to DC, the assault on the Capitol would never have happened. Again, I see a lot of deflection, but very little reflection.

          Reply
        • C.J. Fluehr

          Another quote from Trump’s speech.

          “We wanna go back and get this right, because we’re going to have somebody in there who should not be in there, and our country will be destroyed, and we’re not going to stand for that.”

          He started off thanking the crowd and saying they’re here because they “aren’t going to take it anymore.”

          Listen to the whole speech, it’s more of exactly the same we’ve been hearing for months, all about how he and his followers have been wronged, and needing to do something about it. But this time he’s saying it in front of thousands of his most devoted/fanatical supporters. And you think they needed Antifa to lead them to the Capitol? Strains credulity at any level.

          Reply
        • C.J. Fluehr

          In fairness, there is one line in the speech I missed when listening, but see now when I search the transcript:

          “Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard. Today, we will see whether Republicans stand strong for integrity of our elections. But whether or not they stand strong for our country, our country. Our country has been under siege for a long time. Far longer than this four year period.”

          That’s the only mention of anything being peaceful, it’s early in the speech and even there it’s surrounded by language urging strength and response to a “siege.” He then completely wiped that line out for the next hour with his inflammatory rhetoric, including this just before his conclusion urging them to walk to the Capitol:

          “Our brightest days are before us. Our greatest achievements still wait. I think one of our great achievements will be election security because nobody until I came along had any idea how corrupt our elections were, and again most people would stand there at 9 o’clock in the evening and say I want to thank you very much, and they go off to some other life, but I said something is wrong here, something is really wrong, can’t have happened and we fight, we fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

          He used the word “fight” in some form 20 times in the speech, along with other variants. You can’t possibly believe that throwing out a one-sentence disclaimer early on overpowers the following hour plus of incitement. There’s a reason I forgot it was in there, I’m sure they did too, it wasn’t the tone being set.

          Reply
        • C.J. Fluehr

          Just reported:

          FBI says ‘no indication’ that antifa took part in U.S. Capitol riot
          Amanda Macias 42 mins ago

          WASHINGTON – The FBI said Friday that there was no indication that individuals associated with antifa disguised themselves as pro-Trump supporters in order to provoke the mob at the U.S. Capitol, a claim repeated by several Republican lawmakers.

          When asked if the FBI had uncovered such efforts, the agency’s assistant director Steven D’Antuono told reporters on a call, “We have no indication of that, at this time.”

          Earlier this week, Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz, Mo Brooks and Paul Gosar had suggested that the left-wing extremist group tried to frame Trump supporters by intensifying the events that unfolded at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally.

          Hours after the crowd descended on the Capitol in an effort to derail congressional proceedings to tally electors’ votes and confirm Biden’s win in the Nov. 3 election, Gaetz told the House floor that he had read “compelling evidence” that some of the rioters were from antifa.

          “The Washington Times has just reported some pretty compelling evidence from a facial recognition company showing that some of the people who breached the Capitol today were not Trump supporters, they were masquerading as Trump supporters and in fact were members of the violent terrorist group Antifa,” Gaetz said.

          The Washington Times article has since been removed from the publication’s website.

          Reply
      • A Clarke

        Well then, there’s your answer. It’s not necessary to wait for the real evidence to come to the surface… if it ever will. Mr. Fluehr has summed it up nicely.

        Reply
        • Pam Testomi

          Actually A Clarke, I think C. J. Fluehr has summed things up quite nicely. It’s time to cut ties with trump. Those of us who are hanging on for dear life are only hurting our nation. History does not bode well for Trump in the history books. Insurrections, at anyone’s urging, tend not to age well.

          Reply
    • Joe M

      I’m not sure if we are living in the same world my friend. If you watched the rally before hand, Trump and crew fired them all up and sent them right on down there. Then if you watched any of the coverage it was pretty clear to myself and the rest of the reasonable people in the world who and why they were there. Just like all the other lies, it’s already been debunked. A female military veteran Trump supporter was shot and killed while climbing through the last barricaded door between the mob and groups of our elected officials scared for their own lives. What was the plan? What’s the end game with all of this? It’s anarchy and we as Americans do not stand for what happened on January 6th. Wake up and have some respect for something. Unreal!

      Reply
    • J Patlak

      Ha, this is such a cowardly take. If people you agree with commit violent acts, just own it. I wholeheartedly support abolishing systemic racism and ending biased police violence. That position got wrapped up in some pockets of violent protest amongst the massive non-violent movement, often sparked by excessive law enforcement response to peaceful protests. I still support justice and equity, even if I didn’t support those means. If you support the overthrow of democratic norms in favor of authoritarian leadership staying in power despite losing an election, just say so! You might not like that your team went all cop-killer to make that point, but don’t go blaming the wrong extremists.

      Reply
    • Pam Testoni

      I am shocked and dismayed at those who have fallen victim to the propaganda regarding antifa. There has not been one person who identifies with that ideology recognized as having taken part in the violent insurrection we witnessed on Wednesday. Also, no previous actions of any kind, no looting, robbing, burning, or any acts of violence can ever justify or even remotely explain or defend the actions that took place on 1/6. This “what about” mentality does no one any good. The fact is, our great democratic process was compromised. No matter what political stance any of us takes, we must all consider the threat against our way of life seriously and do all that we can to make sure that it never happens again. And, although Trump did say to
      “ march ” peacefully just once, he and his family also said… “We will not let this happen. Take back the election. You need to fight to get our country back. We will not let Joe Biden take this election from us.” It went on and on. He and his family incited the crowd. Time will tell how much of this plan Trump knew about before hand. I hope he did not. I pray our nation can all see our way past this horrific tragedy and put trump in the past as well.

      Reply

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