Gov. Brian Kemp readied the Georgia National Guard Wednesday in response to riots at the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters protesting the Electoral College vote.
Kemp, who faced intense pressure from Trump and his allies to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, called Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol “un-American” and “a disgrace.”
“It is unimaginable that we have people in our state and in our country that have been threatening police officers, breaking into government buildings,” Kemp told reporters inside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta. “This is not the Georgia way and it is not the way of our country.”
A huge crowd of Trump supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol as House and Senate lawmakers convened Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. Trump had egged on his supporters to protest the vote and hailed several Republican lawmakers who planned to protest the certification before chaos broke out, including several congressional lawmakers from Georgia.
The governor was joined Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who both condemned the riots in Washington, D.C., and urged Trump to disperse the protesters.
“Today is an incredibly sobering reminder of how delicate our democracy truly is,” said Duncan, who for several weeks has called on Trump to drop his fraud claims. “It is also a reminder how dangerous it is for people in power act as if they are more important than that democracy.”
“This is a very sad day,” Ralston said. “The shocking images we have seen from our nation’s capital today are indefensible, un-American and, frankly, heartbreaking.”
The Georgia Senate Republican Caucus also condemned the Trump protesters, saying of Wednesday’s events that “there is no place for such action in this country.”
Some Republican Congress members from Georgia objected to the riots after being forced to lock down in the Capitol rotunda as protesters shattered windows and broke into lawmakers’ offices – though many including U.S Reps. Rick Allen, Barry Loudermilk, Buddy Carter and Marjorie Taylor Greene had earlier pledged to object to the Electoral College certification.
House Democrats from Georgia were unanimous in denouncing the riots, with newly seated District 7 U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, who represents the southern portion of Forsyth County, going so far as to urge her colleagues to impeach Trump a second time.
“Today, armed pro-Trump insurrectionists stormed our nation’s Capitol and a person was shot. I condemn what happened in the strongest possible terms — and we need to be clear that the outgoing president and his enablers have routinely fanned the flames that sparked today's riots,” Bourdeaux said in a statement.
“In light of the personal responsibility Trump bears for today's events and his flagrant efforts to undermine the election in Georgia, I recommend the House move forward with impeachment proceedings immediately. I urge my colleagues to do the right thing.”
In a separate Facebook post on Wednesday evening, Bourdeaux shared a picture of her working over a laptop in a darkened room with the caption, “Pictured: Sitting in the dark waiting for the lockdown to be lifted, working on my floor speech in defense of our democracy and Georgia's elections.”
Newly elected 9th District Rep. Andrew Clyde said in a statement that he supported peaceful protests and he still intended to speak out against certifying Georgia’s electors.
“I fully support the right to peacefully protest and I will always defend that right,” Clyde said in a statement. “I also share and understand the frustration of the millions of Americans that feel cheated out of a fair election. That is why I remain steadfast in my decision to object to the certification of electoral votes, and I am prepared to speak on the House floor against certification when the process resumes.”
Clyde went on to say: “I want to be very clear that I do not support violence as a form of protest. I have seen first-hand that the vast majority of protesters were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights, but some were not, and that is not acceptable.”
Leaders in Forsyth County also took to Facebook to share their thoughts.
Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow said he begged “everyone to take a step back and think about your neighbor. Think about that other person without a political view. Be kind and respectful. We can disagree and still get along.
“I pray for my family, our city, our state and our country. We are experiencing troubling times,” Brumbalow wrote. “The events today are weighing heavily on my heart. Emotions over current elections are off the charts. Our country is divided. Some are celebrating. Some feel that an election was stolen. Others are somewhere in between. People are constantly at each other’s throats if they align with the opposing political party.”
District 22 state Rep. Wes Cantrell asked God in a post to protect men and women in law enforcement and called those that occupied the Capitol “thugs.”
“The thugs that have invaded our Capitol & committed threatening acts & acts of violence should be arrested & prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," he wrote. “This is America. We are supposed to be better than this!”
Forsyth County District 4 Commissioners Cindy Jones Mills said “we have got to all come together and agree, for the sake of our children, that there is NO reason EVER justifiable, to burn down and riot and steal and no mayor or governor or president (regardless of party affiliation) should stand by and watch as protesters destroy our public or private buildings ever.”
“The division needs to stop," Mills wrote. “The violence and destruction on both sides needs to end. Destroying public and private businesses is wrong and unlawful. Period. In all cities, it is against the law and the law should be upheld and supported everywhere. It should be universal and non-partisan and it shouldn’t be debatable by anyone ever. When we start the slippery slope, yesterday happens. It’s no excuse.
“Yesterday is inexcusable but you can’t say burning down entire cities is justified and that was wrong. IT IS ALL WRONG!! Stop defending wrong! Put down your pretense of being a Republican or A Democrat and be a human being and think about what we are teaching our children. Do we want them to grow up in a world where this is considered to be right?”
Reporters with the Forsyth County News and the Gainesville Times contributed to this report.