Amid the mob of protesters challenging Congress’ count of Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden Wednesday as the winner of the 2020 presidential election was an officer in the Republican Party’s Leflore County organization.
Susan Spiller, a Greenwood resident who serves as secretary-treasurer of the Leflore County Republican Executive Committee, said she traveled to Washington with about 18 others from North Mississippi to take action against the results of “the most important election of our lifetime” and to show politicians that they would not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election, claiming fraud.
Meanwhile, other residents watching news of the riots unfolding in the nation’s capital expressed shock, and one local activist said the Capitol Police’s handling of the mob compared to other protesters signified the racial disparity of policing.
The protesters, with the encouragement of outgoing President Donald Trump, disrupted and temporarily delayed the Electoral College’s vote count and led to the evacuation of lawmakers and the shutdown of both the House and Senate, according to national news reports.
They overpowered Capitol Police, broke into the Capitol and infiltrated politicians’ offices. One person made off with part of a sign displayed at the entrance of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, according to The New York Times. One person was shot and later died.
Speaking by phone and text message from her hotel in Washington, Spiller said at first that she and others in her group from Mississippi were unaware of the violence taking place inside the grounds of the Capitol because they were too far away from the front of the building, where the violence was going on.
Asked if she condoned the actions of the rioters, Spiller initally said, “It wasn’t violent at all except getting sprayed by tear gas. There was no violence. We didn’t cause any bad stuff to happen except we did go inside the Capitol. That was the worst thing that happened.”
She said nothing was torn up or stolen, contrary to reporting by national news outlets.
Spiller said she did not enter the Capitol.
She didn’t know it at the time, but Spiller later learned the group of people she traveled with was the Patriot Party of Mississippi, made up of people who have “had it” with the Republican Party. Other state chapters of the Patriot Party are also forming.
She said she didn’t know of any other people from Greenwood who had attended the protest.
The reason Spiller and so many other pro-Trump supporters were there, she explained, was to express their displeasure to politicians about the certification process for the 2020 presidential elections.
“They won’t listen to the people, and they’re spending our money, and they’re doing all this type of stuff,” she said. “We own that Capitol building. We are the boss of the people of Congress. We the U.S. citizens pay their salaries, and we’re being taxed for all of that but no representation for all that.”
When Spiller and the entire group she traveled with returned to their hotel room, she watched coverage of the riots on Fox News.
When asked again her thoughts about the action of rioters, Spiller said this time, “That’s kind of hard to say.”
She paused for a moment, with the news audible in the background, before continuing: “They probably shouldn’t have done that, gone that far, but I really think they wanted to send a message.”
Anita Batman, a friend of Spiller’s who often holds different political opinions, said, “I don’t believe she’s the type of person to commit a seditious act and assault the Capitol and attack democracy and try to overthrow the Constitution.”
Regarding the breach of the Capitol, Batman said, “It looks like an attempted putsch, the taking over of the Capitol to prevent the winner from being declared.”
Responding further by text message, Spiller said that out of the hundreds of thousands of people present, only “a small percentage of folks did some bad things.”
Robert Wilson Jr., who organized June’s peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Greenwood, said previous Black Lives Matter protesters at the Capitol had never been allowed to get close to the building, let alone overwhelm the Capitol Police.
“It’s really a slap in the face to people who are truly protesting for their lives versus people protesting who lost an election,” he said.
He mentioned that rioters were still standing around Washington past curfew with nothing happening to them, at least initially.
A seasoned activist who’s been involved in prior protests, Wilson said that when curfews began police would immediately bombard protesters with tear gas.
The difference in how Trump supporters were treated was jarring, Wilson said: “I think this is showing the racial disparity in how police treat Black people.”
He said that “Americans are supposed to have free and fair elections” and that it’s ironic that states with Republican-led governments that created their election laws are now having their results challenged.
•Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or firstname.lastname@example.org.