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Norwalk political leaders react to Trump-led violence in U.S. Capitol

A Wednesday evening Tweet from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich).

Updated, 6:10 p.m.: Comment from Doug Hempstead; 1 p.m.: Comments from Lucy Dathan and Fred Wilms.

NORWALK, Conn. — As rioters incited by President Donald Trump stormed the nation’s capitol Wednesday, Norwalk Democratic leader Eloisa Melendez thought the “crazy” events “terrifying but unfortunately not shocking because they told us they would do this,” she said.

Late Wednesday, her Republican counterpart, Carl Dickens, said, “I looked on with terrific sadness and a tear in my eyes today. I literally got choked up. Because that’s not us, that’s not America. That’s not the Republican Party. That’s not what we’re about.”

Four people died in the insurrection, three of them due to medical emergencies but one a San Diego woman who was shot while attempting to climb through a broken window into the Speaker’s Lobby, just outside the House Chamber, according to news reports and video on Twitter.

The protests interrupted the normally uneventful certification of the Presidential election results.

Trump, addressing a crowd of supporters Wednesday morning at the Ellipse, had said, “If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.” The mob marched to the Capitol, swarmed past Capitol Police and invaded lawmaker’s spaces, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

“Guns were drawn. … A Trump flag hung on the Capitol. The graceful Rotunda reeked of tear gas. Glass shattered,” AP reported. “On Wednesday, hallowed spaces of American democracy, one after another, yielded to the occupation of Congress.”

“What is happening in Washington DC is unconscionable,” Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling, a Democrat, wrote at about 7 p.m. “This is not a protest – it is an insurrection. Those who stormed the Capital are committing treason against our Constitution. These people are not patriots, they are terrorists. I denounce these acts.”

Norwalk Town Clerk Rick McQuaid, a Republican, said Wednesday afternoon that he was “saddened’ by the behavior of “some.”

Norwalk Town Clerk Rick McQuaid, during a Zoom meeting this summer. (File photo)

“We heard that the election was rigged as far back as January,” he wrote. “I know how hard our Town Clerk and Rov {Registrars of Voters} worked day and night to prevent anything from happening. At a time where we as a Nation need to heal, and move forward.  We once again show our children we just can’t all be good role models. Hopefully peace will be restored, Trust will return to those who believe, and we will once again be looking to the future of our children.”

A Tweet from The Lincoln Project, criticizing U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

“It is beyond distressing to see the news of unrest and destruction in Washington DC,” State Rep. Terri Wood (R-141) wrote. “Trump lost the election and he must stand in support of certifying the election results. His false statements of stolen election have given power to those who’ve caused chaos and unrest in our Capitol. He needs to do the right thing for our country and support the peaceful and lawful transition of power to President Elect Biden.”

Melendez, Norwalk Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman, expressed disbelief about what happened but said, “we all literally watched this unfold on the TV and on Twitter.”

It seemed like protesters “were just allowed in,” she said. “…The bottom line is they told us they would do it, because Trump told them to – it’s shocking but not shocking.”

Democratic Town Committee Chairwoman Eloisa Melendez, in March. (File photo)

Democrats didn’t get to celebrate Tuesday’s victories in the Georgia Senate runoff, she said, noting “a lot of work” in a “nationwide effort” went into the “very historic election,” but “that was not the focus of the day,” even though it’s reported that the incoming Biden administration will have a Democratic majority in the Senate as well as the House.

The woman who was shot was a veteran, Melendez said, before the news came out about three deaths due to medical emergencies. And with the violence, Trump told protesters he loves them, “even after what they were doing, he told them they were special,” she said. “…Republicans will have to answer to this, but this is a horrible day for our country.”

Dickens, Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman, said the events were surprising, but even more surprising because they kept going and “continued to escalate.”

“This divide in this country has got to come to an end,” he said. “Because of it doesn’t, in my humble opinion … we’re headed down a road that we might not be able to turn back from for quite some time. And that just scares the hell out of me.”

“Not blaming anybody, but the name calling’s gotta stop, the sniping’s gotta stop, the social media blitz has got to stop,” Dickens said. Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden recently spoke of “a time to heal” but the next day he and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris were taking shots at people, according to Dickens.

“Republicans do the same thing,” he said. “It’s time that that stops, it just has to stop otherwise, when do you reach the point of no return? And are our enemies around the globe are looking at us.”

A Wednesday Tweet from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Rilling wrote, “Our democracy and constitution is being challenged by false accusations of fraudulent and rigged elections. The world is watching and shaking their heads. The voters have clearly spoken. It is time to move this country forward with a new duly elected President and Congress.”

The electoral vote certification continued late Wednesday and early Thursday, with a GOP attempt to reverse the election blocked in the U.S. Senate with a 92-7 after midnight. In the wee hours of the morning, Congressional Democrats called for Trump’s removal.

Rilling and Melendez earlier said Trump should be removed via the 25th amendment. “The potential for further destructive actions is significant,” Rilling wrote.

“It’s pretty clear Trump cannot fulfill his duties as president,” Melendez said.

Norwalk Republican Town Committee Chairman Carl Dickens, during a November Zoom meeting.

“I think it would divide the nation even more,” Dickens said. “And I think it would be a waste of time and money and effort… He’s got two weeks left, those two weeks will fly by. And then, you know, when this term is over, will he walk out? Will he leave? Or will he have to be escorted out? Of course, that remains to be seen.”

Trump saw opportunity in 2016, winning by “mining” that, “quite honestly, the Republican Party has ignored for a long time. And, and so you created this huge silent majority,” Dickens said. “He made was a lot of mistakes, reading that same group and the rest of America for his second term… He’s of the personality that if he wants to do it and believe it, he’s going to do it. If he doesn’t want to, and doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do, you know, no matter who tells him to do something else, he’s not going to do it.”

Dickens said Trump’s treatment Wednesday of Vice President Mike Pence was “very disappointing.”

“The Republican Party’s got to do a better job than the Republican Party has been doing,” Dickens said. “I mean, we’ve gotten away from, you know, the Reagan era of Republicanism and, and even the George Bushes, and the Bushs’ errors. We’ve got to get back to what Republicans and conservatives are all about. …That’ll be a big step in the reverse direction, I think, of starting to heal the nation. And I think if, you know, Republicans as a whole reach across the aisle, and talk to their Democratic counterparts, and do stuff in a nonpartisan basis, that will heal the nation.”

Late in the evening, after order was restored on Capitol Hill, Rilling wrote, “Watching the news reports and listening to all our Congress people now speaking, I am totally confident that our nation will heal and that we will find a greater unity than ever before.”

 

NancyOnNorwalk reached out to a number of Norwalk politicians for responses to the action in the Capitol. Here are the replies received, in addition to statements that arrived unsolicited:

 

Former Board of Education member Bryan Meek, a Republican:

“Curious, did you ask any of us our opinions about the riots over the summer or the protests that violated the Governor’s orders on crowd sizes?

“I don’t condone it, but lawlessness begets lawlessness.  Other than that I do not who the few dozen were inside the building and how they managed to get by Capitol police of which there are 100s on a normal day.  Today they had advanced knowledge of a large gathering, so it is very puzzling why they were not more secured.  Some certainly look like Trump supporters.  Others look like those who were burning and looting this summer with Trump gear on.  The law breakers should be prosecuted of course, but it’s very convenient this all happened right when the people’s representatives were making the case about how election laws were broken in multiple states.  Connecticut’s legislature managed to legally pass their ballot harvesting schemes in time for the election, whether I like it or not.  A number of states seemed to have by-passed that legally required step and changed election laws by fiat of administrative orders.  If governments are going determine what laws are enforced and which are ignored it opens the door for those governed to pick and choose as well.  Sad days.”

 

State Rep. Chris Perone (D-137)

“It was a disgraceful assault on our government and our democracy itself. Our nation was founded with freedom of speech and expression written into its identity. But what we all saw today was not exercise of those values but a grotesque byproduct of weaponized rhetoric aimed at destabilizing our core democratic values.

“One of the things that sets us apart as Americans is our ability to compromise. The entire government was founded on our capacity to work out our differences. But for several hours on Wednesday January 6, 2021, democracy nearly failed as the work of government was suspended by the mindless violence of a mob. A frightening and sobering demonstration of the fragility of our democracy.

“Yet in this dark moment, we are also reminded of our strength. The simple fact is our nation was founded by the will of the people seeking to protect their individual freedoms. And and so doing, declared that there was no place our democracy for the destructive actions of a marauding group bent on denying those freedoms for their own narrow interests.”

 

Former Republican Registrar Karen Doyle Lyons

“Very sad. People have every right to protest peacefully. They can not destroy property as they did today. We have seen riots that have destroyed so much property in so many cities throughout the United States this past year. They can not excuse these actions as they have done all year.”

 

State Rep. Lucy Dathan (D-142)

“I am deeply troubled and saddened by yesterday’s violent insurrection in which a pro-Trump mob stormed our nation’s Capitol resulting in tragic loss of life and the vandalism of our hallowed halls of power.  For generations, the US has been seen as a beacon of democracy worldwide, not only evidenced by the peaceful transfer of power from one president to the next but also by our constitutionally protected right of peaceful protest.  What happened yesterday – the incitement of violence by an incumbent President leading to the violent storming of Congress – will forever tarnish our position on the world stage.  I join many of our Federal Legislators who are calling for the immediate removal of President Trump by invoking the 25th amendment to the US Constitution. Whether or not this happens, President Trump needs to be held fully accountable for the impact of his words as only then can our country begin the long healing process.  By contrast, here in Connecticut, the General Assembly convened the 2021 session outdoors in the face of protestors who were peacefully voicing their opinions on many topics.  I am looking forward to serving my constituents in District 142 and continuing our traditions of open dialogue and respectful disagreement as we work for the benefit of everyone within our State.”

Former State Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142)

“This mob attack on the Capital was a direct assault on our Republic. I never thought I would see something like this in my lifetime. Joe Biden is our President-elect and going forward we need to faithfully follow our Constitution. We are better than this.”

A statement from State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25) and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-11)

“Today’s chaos and violence is due to President Trump’s reckless comments and his rejection of the clear and decisive election results.

“Republicans everywhere should reject this violence, sedition, and subversion of American democracy.

“To the American people who are going about their lives as treason and sedition are happening at the U.S. Capitol, stop what you are doing and pay attention. Be disgusted, appalled, and angry. We can never let this happen again. Our Democracy is fragile and freedom is not guaranteed.

“Demand that all our elected officials reject today’s events and the hate and lies over the past 4 years that caused this to happen.”

 

A statement from U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

A Wednesday evening Tweet from U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

“Peaceful protest is deeply patriotic. Insurrection is sedition, and those that are taking part today in the attempted takeover of the Capitol, including the destruction and desecration of our nation’s temple of democracy, will be held accountable.

“But make no mistake—these traitors will not stop the business of democracy. We will get back to the work of certifying the transfer of power as soon as possible, and we will find a way to find strength amidst this horror.

“I am in a secure location, as are the handful of my staff members who are on the Capitol grounds today. My thanks go out to the Capitol Police and other law enforcement and military personnel who are defending our nation at this moment. We will rise from this dark day as a nation. I am sure of it.”

 

A statement from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes (D-Greenwich)

“Today’s seditious riot, attempting to overturn the rightful election of Joe Biden, is the inevitable and tragic result of months and years of lies and incitement by Donald Trump and his craven enablers.  There is blood on their hands. This is domestic terrorism, and the traitors who brought this violence to the hallowed halls of democracy are the shame of the nation and must be brought to justice.

“We will never be dissuaded from carrying out our sacred oaths to the Constitution and ensuring the transition of power on behalf of the American people. On January 20th, Joe Biden will be President. Kamala Harris will be Vice President. And no lies, threats, or mobs can change that truth.”

 

Former Council member Doug Hempstead (R-District D)

“Violence is never acceptable. Those who break laws, hurt others, destroy property whether public or private need to be accountable for their actions.”

 

Council Minority Leader Thomas Keegan (R-District D), State Rep. Travis Simms (D-140),  and District D Republican leader John Romano did not respond to the email from NancyOnNorwalk.

17 comments

Scott Vetare January 7, 2021 at 7:23 am

This is an awful act by a small percentage of Americans (?) I’m sad to see all of the destruction going on in our beautiful country. Unfortunately people are divided, i just hope we’ll see some normalcy soon. I’m not happy about the election results but we need to support our country and hope congress does the right things going forward.

John Levin January 7, 2021 at 8:23 am

Maybe, just maybe, this orgy of violence and desecration by his supporters will finally release the Republican Party from Donald Trump’s stranglehold. I hope so. No more excuses.

John O'Neill January 7, 2021 at 9:08 am

The sad truth is yesterday’s disgrace on Capitol Hill was just the culmination of the last 6 months of unpeaceful protests and riots throughout the country. Trump has disgraced the nation and needs to go. His followers need a reality check and need to support the United States and not some nut case in the White House.
It should also be pointed out that there’s guilt on both sides of the aisle. For those not paying attention our Gov’t Buildings have come under fire in many of our cities. For those unaware just do a little research on Seattle and Portland. My only question is why our politicians aren’t concerned about those unpeaceful protests. I hope yesterday was a wakeup call for political leaders of both parties. It’s time to start arresting AND convicting unpeaceful protesters and rioters…For goodness sakes business owners in some of these cities can’t get insurance any more…
In summary, Trump is a disgrace. He is not alone. Time to wake up.

stuart garrelick January 7, 2021 at 9:17 am

Thank you Nancy for your usual excellent reporting.
Thank you Norwalk political leaders and office holders for your unified support for our democracy. It’s good to have those to be proud of on a day of shame. Sincerely hope the rest of America can react likewise and work together to begin the healing process.

Nathaniel Yordon January 7, 2021 at 9:19 am

““Not blaming anybody, but the name calling’s gotta stop, the sniping’s gotta stop, the social media blitz has got to stop,” Dickens said.” Really? Not blaming anybody? Really? Carl. it’s time to lay blame and accept responsibility and it clearly falls at the feet of Donald Trump and his enablers in the GOP. Until you and your party accept responsibility for your actions including putting this dangerous man in charge of our country and doing nothing to stop the dissemination of hate and conspiracy theories, there can be no healing. The Democrats and President elect Biden can’t tell the truth to these crazy folks. They will not listen to us. You and your party have to tell them the truth. If you keep saying well its just a difference of opinion, people are entitled to their beliefs, when your party is spouting lies and crazy conspiracies there can be no progress.
And Brian Meek, if you cannot figure out the difference between the BLM protests and this, all I can say is racism makes you stupid.

Peter Franz January 7, 2021 at 2:14 pm

The saddest thing about yesterday’s events is they were absolutely expected and not surprising at all. It’s beyond pointless to say things like “this is not who we are” because obviously, it is.

America elected Donald Trump to the presidency. There will be great shame in that for the rest of our history.

Bryan Meek January 7, 2021 at 4:45 pm

Throwing the race card Nate? I was talking about the end-run on the legislative process for your information. But now that you’ve introduced conspiracy theories into the mix, can we get back the $150 million poured down the drain trying to impeach Trump for what Hillary and Biden did? Trump will fade away, but it’s clear that your hatred will need to find new targets. Party of unity, my rear.

Ron Morris January 7, 2021 at 4:56 pm

Will the Republicans on this article come out and condemn TRump’s behavior of the last 4 years tha started this issue?

Rick McQuaid
Carl Dickens
Scott Vetare
Bryan Meek
Karen Doyle Lyons
Fred Wilms
and any others that I missed.

John O'Neill January 7, 2021 at 6:05 pm

@Nathaniel — I agree 1000% with your stance on Trump. Glad to see you vent and get it all out of your system.
Your point on political parties needing to do a better job vetting candidates is also a great point. However, I believe BOTH political parties could do a better job vetting candidates. The Republicans don’t have a monopoly on asinine candidates. If you’d like me to give examples on a local level I’d be more that happy to accommodate.

Al January 7, 2021 at 9:00 pm

“Leaders” is a stretch.  RTC, to understand why we effectively have one party in this town, just read above.  A semi-pro commenter dribbling more conspiracy, someone who draft-resigned over racist posts and a party chair with the most spineless “but both sides” response that barely makes sense.  

As an independent, this is who we see representing your party here.  You continue to appeal to the fringe.  Terri and Fred are adults and unfortunately she isn’t in my district.  Absolute lack of leadership from everyone else who can’t get out of their own way for one day to denounce this mess.

B Aitken January 7, 2021 at 10:33 pm

Recent events have allowed for pros and cons:
Pros: The madness of Trump and his nimble minded followers not unlike those of other dictators not requiring naming are being ousted finally. Fortunately, our country has many controls in place to reduce the ability for this to happen and be unduly challenged. Unfortunately, we have a President that is pushing the thresholds of his own arrogance versus what is good for the country. There is no legal or other insinuation made on electoral process being 100% appropriate in the history of elections. If Gore made this fuss, he would have been President. By such a miniscule margin then versus now- what Biden has is such a clear majority now compared to many prior elections.

Cons: The people that are believing Trump’s rhetoric are not only confused but dazed. So if he should be ‘in power’,assuming an election is stolen, but what does that give us? Disruption, confusion, uncertainty, dismay, anger? Who does that benefit? No one. In all we are going through, does a leader bring us further DOWN, or UP. I pray that despite demographics and education that common sense will prevail. The legal system in this country I hope will prevail. Trump needs to stop acting like a sore loser- being excited by hooligans standing up for (what?)….I think they may not even know…..

Pure Fact: In the election of Trump vs Clinton in 2016, Germans held an internal election as well on this. The vote was 90% Clinton. Why do you think that was? Clearly there are traits of Trump that they recognize as undesirable and uncomfortably too familiar in a negative way. History can breed knowledge and change. Hopefully this will be an example for us all to remember and learn from.

Let us all support peace and transition. 2020 has been difficult enough in many ways for all, and the country is in despair. Let the elected leaders do their jobs in peace. They are in this for all Americans.

John ONeill January 8, 2021 at 12:27 am

@B Aitken – What??????
As we are in the woke culture zone let’s remember Germany killed 6,000,000 jews not too long ago, and you can’t blame Columbus for that !! The last thing people (I’m assuming I’m speaking for the silent readers among us) need is a poll from Germany about the 2016 election…If you took the same poll in 1932 Hitler would have beaten FDR for goodness sakes!
Not to be rude, but what’s your point exactly? ?

john j flynn January 8, 2021 at 11:14 am

I can’t believe the responses of our elected officials. Trump called for peaceful Protest. Our right. Read the Italian affidavit, read the Frankfort Germany evidence. The DNC took 112 million in bribes from Perdue Pharma, next to Himes’ Office. Blumenthal and Murphy took bribes from Leiter, Burisma’s Lobbyist. Murphy met with Iran secretly and Iran is threatening to murder the POTUS. I am surrounded by strangers, I thought were my friends. The gloves fit, you can’t acquitt.

steve January 8, 2021 at 10:48 pm

The great art of deflection by the party previously known as the Republican party and party of personal responsibility. I know they were really Antifa in costume—Sandy Hook never happened either- Deep State stuff- False Flag. Cop at the Capitol didn’t really die either….oh yeah— Benghazi. How come everyone indicted in the Trump circle was convicted—I know it was all a set up—

AM January 9, 2021 at 2:20 pm

John Flynn what you said about Murphy and Hines is called libel. That is very dangerous. Talk about conspiracy theories, that’s a doosie

Paul Lanning January 9, 2021 at 11:38 pm

Everyone knew this was coming, yet it was allowed to happen. The police and National Guard could have turned the mob away before a single rioter got into the building.

Bryan Meek January 10, 2021 at 11:55 am

What did Murphy have to say about the 100 days of riots in Portland that included federal buildings in his charge?

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