Representatives to Congress from Oklahoma were able to count themselves safe from Wednesday’s storming of the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters protesting the electoral count that began earlier in the day.
While Senators James Lankford and Jim Inhofe, along with the state’s House members, checked in on social media to say they were safe or sheltered, while also condemning the violence, those watching from a distance saw live on television or social media feeds as an angry mob shoved through barricades and law enforcement and entered the Capitol. At least one person was killed by police, and multiple outlets reported numerous injuries.
“My staff and I are safe inside the Capitol Complex,” Rep. Frank Lucas posted to social media. “I thank the Capitol Police who are risking their safety to protect my colleagues and our staff.
I unequivocally condemn the violence and riots seen today in and around the Capitol, and I pray for the restoration of peace.”
Aly Beley, communications staffer for Sen. Lankford wrote that she was ”absolutely devastated for our nation – this is absolutely heartbreaking. I’m safe and Senator Lankford tweeted that he is sheltered in place.”
Lankford was among senators who had planned to object to the electoral count and work to create a election commission before the melee stopped the debate, forcing those at the Capitol to shelter in place or evacuate.
He returned to the floor Wednesday night denouncing the violence, saying he knew the committee wouldn’t be formed, but said Oklahomans still want election security.
“In Oklahoma we’d say something like why in God’s name would someone think attacking law enforcement and occupying the United State’s capitol is the best way to show that you’re right,” he said. “Rioters and thugs don’t run the Capitol. We’re the United States of America. We disagree on a lot of things and we have a lot of spirited debate in this room, but we talk it out and we honor each other, even in our disagreements.
“Peaceful people in my state in Oklahoma want their questions answer but they don’t want this, what happened today. They want to honor the Constitutional process but they also want to have a debate about election security because they want to make sure it’s right. That’s why it’s an important issue that still needs to be resolved.”
Inhofe said Tuesday that objecting went against his oath to uphold the Constitution. He also released a statement Wednesday.
“My staff and I are safe and grateful to all law enforcement for risking their safety to protect us,” he wrote. “This violence and disrespectful for our Constitution and our republic is unacceptable and must stop now.”
As the news began to break, some readers of the News Press took issue with the Associated Press’ description of Trump’s election fraud claims as baseless. Payne County resident Randy Chevrier said there was a basis to call the election in question, though he didn’t think it should have gone to the extent it did.
“There is basis for fraud, in-state, that has made this election very questionable,” he said. “I don’t believe there is widespread fraud. I believe there is specific fraud in key counties and key states. It was known that that would turn the election. The biggest problem going forward, is do I have confidence in any election going forward?”
Chevrier was quick to add that he was upset that protests have turned violent.
“I am disappointed that people would jeopardize a peaceful assembly,” he said.
Stillwater resident Tom Evans called it an act of terrorism in a comment on the News Press’ post.
“What’s happening in DC is domestic terrorism, fueled and incited by a landslide loser/coward who should have been removed following his January impeachment,” he wrote. “Sedition will end, but the rule of law insists on all being held accountable.”
Stillwater Mayor Will Joyce posted his thoughts on social media, calling the actions unAmerican, but maintained a hopeful tone that the nation’s divide could still be bridged.
“There is much talk of who’s to blame, and those responsible for today must be held fully responsible. But we also need to ask the important question of who will be willing to do the work to reestablish our shared belief in the American values of respect justice and equality,” he wrote. “Let us not be defined by the appalling action of a few. Let us instead use this day of infamy to turn our communities toward a more hopeful and positive future.”