As rioters stormed into the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to stop the count of the Electoral College votes that will eventually certify Democrat Joe Biden as president-elect, those gathered outside the South Dakota State Capitol in Pierre remained peaceful in expressing their support for President Donald Trump.
All of this occurred because, per the U.S. Constitution, the 535 members of Congress (100 senators and 435 House members) met in a joint session to formally accept the votes from the Electoral College, whose members voted 306-232 to elect Biden over Trump.
Trump and his allies refuse to accept this, making claims of the election being “rigged” and a “fraud.” They particularly challenge the votes in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.
South Dakota is a state in which Trump defeated Biden by 26 points. Outside the State Capitol in Pierre on Wednesday, dozens of Trump supporters marched while chanting “stop the steal” and “fight for Trump.”
The Pierre protesters then ascended the steps of the Capitol for a photo, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and unfurling a banner that read “Fight Fraud or Resign.”
Thane Badger of Pierre said he decided to join the protest because “communism is coming” to the American government.
“If we would have lost [the election], we would have not been happy about it, but we would have lost. We were cheated out of this, and that makes it a complete different deal. Our freedoms are vanishing,” Badger told the Capital Journal.
He said he hoped the protests would get Trump back in office.
“People should have the right to be free and enjoy their life and not worry about being owned by the Chinese,” Badger said.
Loretta Jangula of Rapid City defined herself as a patriot who firmly believes in justice.
“I believe that the election was totally fraudulent the way it was handled,” Jangula said. “If we let this continue then we won’t have a country anymore. If the Democrats get in there, they’re gonna stack the courts; they’re going to add additional judges on the Supreme Court til they get what they want and our country’s gonna be gone. We’re already halfway there; socialism is becoming more Marxist.”
Jangula said she was “very, very let down” by South Dakota’s congressional representatives’ refusal to get behind the election challenge. She said she emailed U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.
“I believe that he let us down and it hurts because this is our House, not their House in Washington D.C. We elected them to do the work. They are not the boss. We are the boss, and that’s not being carried out and it’s very sad,” Jangula said. “Our relatives have bled and died for this country and they’re just letting it go down the drain.”
Meanwhile, the situation in Washington, D.C. remained tense through Wednesday evening. Below are Wednesday statements and Twitter posts from several elected officials regarding the events.
U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D.: “As a nation, we should stand together in opposition to the violent acts and lawlessness that occurred at the U.S. Capitol today. Violence and destruction are never the answer. We are better than this, and it’s past time for cooler heads to prevail. I continue to pray for our great country.”
U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.: “Today has been a sad day for America. The violent behavior at the Capitol is inexcusable and disgusting, but we won’t be deterred from our Constitutional duty. We need to work together to protect our democracy. Please pray for our country.”
U.S. Rep. Dusty Johnson, R-S.D.: “Too many have sown the seeds of anger and division. This is its tragic harvest. This needs to stop.”
Gov. Kristi Noem: “We are all entitled to peacefully protest. Violence is not a part of that. What’s happening in the Capitol right now must stop.”
President-elect Joe Biden: “Through war and strife, America has endured much. And we will endure here and prevail now.”
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris: “Democracy will prevail.”
Current Vice President Mike Pence, who was presiding over the joint session at the time of the breach: “Peaceful protest is the right of every American, but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi: “Today’s shameful assault on our democracy — anointed at the highest level of government — must not deter us from our responsibility to the Constitution. Tonight, we will move forward with the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election.”
President Donald Trump, before being suspended for violating Twitter rules: “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”