PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — After protestors stormed the nation’s capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, resulting in injuries and one death, local political leaders and residents are reacting to the incident.
“To watch that happen today at the Capitol was very hurtful, very emotional for me personally,” said Debbie Wood, Chairperson of the Bay County Republican Party. “I get the frustration but I hope everyone notches it down a bit. Knocking in windows at the Capitol is not the way to go.”
Wood echoed the sentiments of other Republican leaders nationwide, including state leaders like Congressman Neal Dunn, and Governor Ron DeSantis, who both issued statements saying “the violent behavior [seen Wednesday] is abhorrent and unacceptable,” and “the perpetrators must face the full weight of the law.”
However, some local Trump supporters said the protest sent a message of indignance as they believe the election results are illegitimate.
“I think today was an example of people are frustrated,” said Bay County resident Paul Swindell. “I support their frustrations and I think our country is headed in a very dangerous area where people are losing their freedoms slowly.”
Other residents said the protest on the nation’s capitol posed a threat to democracy.
“All of these efforts to kind of overthrow this democratic election can cause this kind of uproar and almost a coup,” saisd Megan Haley, another Bay County resident.
Bay County Democratic Committee Chairperson, Dr. Rickey Rivers, said in the days ahead, it’s time for unity.
“We really need to come together and settle down the rhetoric and be able to talk to each other,” he said.
Wood said that rhetoric was hurtful on Wednesday, as she received several phone calls calling Trump supporters terrorists after the incident in Washington, D.C.. Rivers said blanket statements will not bring the nation together.
“We have some bad actors and unfortunately they did what they did,” he said. “Not all Trump supporters are bad.”
While they may have different political opinions, they both agree on the idea that differing opinions should be respected.
“It is okay to have a difference of opinion,” Wood said. “Those opinions have made this country grow and be the best country in the world for quite a while now.”
“The things that we don’t agree on have brought us together to make the country stronger,” Rivers said, adding that he feels confident in the incoming president and vice-president’s abilities to unify the country.
Wood said moving forward, Trump supporters in the local community and across the country must channel their frustration in a positive way, to build a better Republican Party in the years ahead. You can read her full statement below:
“As President Trump has said repeatedly, there is no place for violence and destruction in American politics. Those who are destroying property and hurting others should be charged, as should have been the case throughout 2020 when riots terrorized US cities.
The anger and frustration felt today is justified. There are enemies to the American republic in positions of power. They have prospered while the American people have suffered, and the Constitution has been ignored.
The solution, however, is not to be found in riots. It is to be found in strengthening our communities, by rallying behind strong leaders, and by doing good as individuals.
We know what is to happen next. The same forces that defended those who burned down businesses will use what has happened today to escalate and amplify their attacks on Donald Trump and his supporters.
Now, more than ever, we ask you to consider directing your energy and frustration into positive acts. The Bay GOP will continue to stand with President Trump and his America First agenda.
Help us Make America Great Again.
Debbie Wood, Chairman of the Bay County Republican Party”