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Senator Merkley Describes 'Chaos' At Capitol As Pro-Trump Protesters Invade


U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon confirms misinformed and angry Trump supporters disrupted the electoral proceedings today, including a breach of the Capitol building.

The Oregon Democrat says President Trump’s fostering of conspiracy theories and falsehoods about losing the November election have divided Americans and fueled violence.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) at an August 2020 event in Eugene.

Speaking to Oregon media from an undisclosed area of Washington D.C. this afternoon, Merkley says the unrest grew because many did not challenge lies and rhetoric surrounding the elections sooner.

“When people in places of influence --like the President of the United States certainly-- start to completely put out myths to try to divide the people against themselves, all of us have a responsibility to stand up and do all we can to correct that and end that information, and put things back on track.”

The Capitol Building has been put into lockdown, with members of the House and Senate dispersed.

Merkley says he expects Congress to certify the election results eventually, establishing Joe Biden as the next President of the United States.

Credit C-SPAN
A "March for Trump" protester occupies a seat in the Senate chambers. The building was later cleared and put into lockdown.

In a written statement, Merkley's colleague, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) stated:

“What’s happening today in our nation’s Capitol is a direct assault on democracy, a riot by insurrectionists that caps off four years of Donald Trump fanning the flames of fanaticism. Every Republican lawmaker who supported his efforts to overturn a legitimate election shares responsibility for the violence at the heart of our democracy.

"All Americans must be able to elect House and Senate members safe in the knowledge that their views will be represented in civil debate here in Congress without mob rule ever squelching that discussion.

"As a steadfast defender of the First Amendment, I will always support peaceful protest even if I disagree with the views that are expressed. This is far from peaceful protest. But I thank the Capitol Police for their courage protecting all elected officials from criminals bent on destroying democracy. And I very much look forward to resuming the urgent work for our country, as soon as possible.”

Security of the U.S. Capitol will be revisited following the invasion of pro-Trump demonstrators.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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