ORLANDO, Fla. – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings didn’t mince words Wednesday when asked about the throngs of President Donald Trump supporters who fought with police and stormed Capitol Hill.
Dyer said Wednesday’s riots were in stark contrast to the predominantly peaceful Black Lives Matter protests seen in Central Florida during the summer months.
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“We saw peaceful protests in our community, peaceful demonstrations with people marching around with signs and that I would characterize as protesting or demonstrating. Breaking windows and using physical force to overrun the Capitol of the United States is not peaceful demonstrating or peaceful protesting. They’re a mob, I would go so far as to label them as domestic terrorists,” Dyer said.
He expects those who were caught on camera committing acts of destruction and violence to face criminal consequences.
Before the situation gets even worse, he implored Trump to call off the crowds.
“As I was arriving (at the news conference), the president was finally at least asking them to leave the Capitol and go home but he was continuing to press issues that would simply inflame the mob more, so I don’t know whether that helped in any way,” Dyer said.
Police hold off Trump supporters who tried to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Trump tweeted a video message at about 4:20 p.m. telling his supporters to obey law enforcement.
“Go home. We love you, you’re very special,” he said in the video, which has since been removed from Twitter.
In the footage, he also repeated refuted claims that he won the presidential election in November over President-elect Joe Biden.
Demings said his wife, Rep. Val Demings, was at he Capitol Wednesday preparing to confirm the Electoral College votes and he fears what could have happened to her and other lawmakers when rioters entered the House chamber.
“That should never happen again. The Capitol police never should be that undermanned to the point where that situation could have been much worse if they entered the building freely. These individuals, mind you, had not been through any type of security checks. They could have been armed with everything and you allow them to enter into that workspace. That should never have happened on a day in which Congress was supposed to be counting the Electoral votes for the presidency of the United States. That certainly should have been anticipated, should have been known and actually they could have done a better job,” Demings said.
He described his wife as upset and angry.
“To put it bluntly, what happened there was just disappointing as hell for me because she said that she was in the Capitol and at some point, when the Capitol was overrun by disruptive individuals, the Capitol police closed the doors and began to try to maintain that closure by putting furniture in front of the doors, guns were drawn and the members of Congress were directed to get on the floor, and to don gas masks. Arguably to me in the free world, the leading nation in the world, that should never happen,” he said.
Like Dyer, Demings and his wife believe the president and his political allies fanned the flames.
“So she was quite upset about it. She felt that there were colleagues, including the president, (that) helped to incite the circumstances that unfolded and I think that that attitude is shared amongst many Americans,” Demings said.
For the latest on the situation in the Capitol, click here.