Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, was among numerous legislators Wednesday who called for violent protests at the U.S. Capitol building to end, following evacuations of multiple congressional buildings as lawmakers met to count the Electoral College votes.
The congressman said the operations of protesters were “unacceptable and tragic to our nation’s integrity,” according to a statement made from his campaign Twitter account.
“I call for those engaged in storming Congress to immediately cease your operations,” read his statement. “Allow our constitutional processes to proceed and allow our security guards and our staff to go home safely to their families. Overrunning the people’s house is not the way. Peaceful protest and meaningful debate on the floor is what is needed. We have neither right now. This behavior isn’t patriotism. It’s sedition.”
Garcia did not mention the status of his location following the reported evacuations and a lockdown of the U.S. Capitol as supporters of President Donald Trump clashed with police. A woman died at a hospital after a shooting inside the Capitol building took place, Metropolitan Police Department officials confirmed. Details of the shooting were not immediately known.
In tweets posted as the scene unfolded, Trump called on the protesters to refrain from violence:
“Please support our Capitol Police and law enforcement. They are truly on the side of our country. Stay peaceful!,” Trump wrote. “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the party of law and order – respect the law and our great men and women in blue. Thank you!”
Chaos from the breach, which prompted the National Guard to be deployed in an attempt to control the scene, paused other operations across the country, including a scheduled coronavirus update from Gov. Gavin Newsom for the state amid a COVID-19 surge. In a prepared statement the governor expressed concern for the safety of California’s congressional delegation and urged the president to call for an end to the “escalating situation.”
President-elect Joe Biden called the incident “an unprecedented assault” during a televised address.
“The words of a president matter, no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite. Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
Minutes later, Trump released a video on Twitter in which he told protesters to “go home now,” while continuing to insist the election “was stolen from us.”
“It was a landslide election and everyone knows it, especially the other side, but you have to go home now,” he said. “This was a fraudulent election. But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home and go home at peace.”
Some Santa Clarita Valley-based government leaders took to social media to express their concerns over what had been unfolding in Washington, D.C., including 38th District Assemblywoman Suzette Valladares, R-Santa Clarita, and Christy Smith, former Democratic Assemblywoman of the same district who challenged Garcia in the 25th Congressional District election in November.
“We are better than this,” Valladares wrote on Twitter.
“Praying for the safety of the D.C. Capitol community,” wrote Smith. “May our leaders be safe and terrorists stand down.”
Congress was expected to meet and count the Electoral College votes for the presidential election between Biden, who earned 306 electoral votes, and Trump, who received 232. Trump has legally challenged the results but judges have rejected his efforts in courts.
Garcia, whose 25th Congressional District includes the Antelope, Simi and Santa Clarita valleys, announced Monday he would join several GOP lawmakers in rejecting some of the electoral votes unless an audit was done to assess the possibility of election fraud in six states.
“While I am a federalist, I do believe there is enough evidence of compromised processes and breakdowns in election integrity by certain state legislatures that do in fact warrant a closer examination,” read Garcia’s statement, in part. “We need a full forensic audit of several states to ensure all Americans have confidence in our elections.”
Garcia, who won his election by 333 votes over Smith, continued statements on social media as the situation unfolded in and around the Capitol, calling for peace so that Congress could resume.
“I urge these people to peacefully exit so that Congress may continue to execute our constitutional duties and our staff and Capitol Police may safely go home to their families,” he said.
Congress continued the proceedings Wednesday night after the Capitol was secured.