Local Republicans present for chaos in the US Capitol
Several dozen people from the Williamsport area were among thousands of people witnessing the chaos and upheaval in the nation’s capital Wednesday.
Jeff Stroehmann, a former Lyoming County Republican Committee chair, who was among a busload of 55 people who headed to Washington to protest the U.S. Congress certifying electoral votes, said he never felt in danger despite the violence that occurred outside and inside the capitol building.
“We heard the president speak at the White House, then marched up to the Capitol building,” Stroehmann, current chair of Lycoming County for Trump 2020, told the Sun-Gazette.
“People got agitated when they passed the Department of Justice building. They closed the big steel doors in front of the building.”
Soon after, police fired tear gas with protesters picking up the canisters and tossing them back at them, according to Stroehmann.
He said his own group was well-behaved and he described the crowd he was with and near during the protest at the Capitol as very respectful.
“The majority of people down here felt there was a process that took place that wasn’t transparent,” he said. “They just want answers.”
Stroehmann said he and his group didn’t know what to expect when they headed to Washington.
He said he does not condone any of the violence that occurred.
Lycoming County Republican Committee Chairman Vince Matteo, who did not make the trip to Washington, said violence is not the answer.
“It is unfortunate it evolved into this,” Matteo said.
He said in some ways, he could see Wednesday’s chaotic situation coming.
“There are some legitimate concerns of how the elections were run but this is not the answer to it,” Matteo urged.
Now, he said, it will be interesting to see how American politics play out in 2021 with Democrats controlling the White House and Congress.
“We will see what they do,” he said.
Longtime Republican Party member Carol Sides, of Williamsport, also did not attend the event.
She said she was still trying to “digest” the protests and what they mean.
“I just think it was totally unexpected,” she said.
She suggested the violence could have been the result of just a few bad actors or those not even connected to protesters who went to Washington.