By Lisa Young

Staff writer

In what has become one of the darkest days in American history, Delta County leaders and one state representative have shown solidarity in denouncing the attack on the nation’s Capitol that took place on Jan. 6, 2021.

Supporters of President Donald Trump breached security and threatened members of Congress while they met to certify state certificates and count the Electoral College votes. The process resumed after rioters were removed from the Capitol. Former Vice President and President-Elect Joseph R. Biden’s victory was affirmed by a joint session of Congress with Vice President Mike Pence presiding.

An investigation into the horrific events at the Capitol continues while calls for the president to resign or face a second impeachment are being reported by national and world media outlets.

Following the insurrection in Washington, D.C., the DCI contacted Rep. Matt Soper, Delta County Commissioners Mark Roeber, Don Suppes and Mike Lane for their reactions to the violence. Republican chair Roger Bentley, who attended the “Save America” march on Jan. 6, and Democratic chair Deborah Fisk were also asked to address the violence that engulfed the Capitol Building.

While failing short of placing the blame squarely on the shoulders of Trump, Colorado State Rep. Matt Soper (HD 54) offered the following response regarding the disturbing events at the nation’s Capitol on Jan. 6.

“It is the duty of Congress, under the 12th Amendment to the Constitution, to open the certified certificates from the states and count the votes of the Electoral College. This process is historically pro forma with objections made from time to time as a final protest. The violence Americans witnessed in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 and over the summer in Denver is unacceptable. Destroying Capitol Buildings is not the hallmark of a strong first world republic. American [sic] can do better.”

“Our nation is divided. Families and friends estranged over politics. Our institutions of government are being tested. In times of crisis we must put our faith in God and pray for our nation. As new leaders take the reins, we must respect the rule of law and the tradition of peaceably transferring power. Those in power would be well served to respect the values of the minority for the tailwind of today can become a headwind of tomorrow.”

Delta County’s three Republican commissioners released a statement to the DCI the day after the event in which they condemned the violence at the Capitol in the following press release:

Delta County, like much of America, was in complete and utter shock to see what unfolded in our Nation’s Capital on Wednesday afternoon. We know that election offices across America work tirelessly to uphold the incredibly crucial charge of ensuring our democracy through elections, the released stated.

“We have always maintained our complete and total faith in the election results here in Delta County and in Colorado,” said Commissioner Mark Roeber. “We have the absolute best team in place with Teri Stephenson, Rene Loy Maas and Melinda Sanford to ensure the validity and accuracy of votes cast by all Delta County residents.”

“We are absolutely disgusted by the violence that took place yesterday,” said Commissioner Don Suppes, “While we whole-heartedly believe in the right to peacefully assemble, and will fight for that right given to us by the Constitution, violence and destruction of property is never the answer, and will not be condoned.”

“We are all Americans, first and foremost,” said Commissioner Mike Lane, “While we may not all agree, the events of yesterday were not acceptable, they were criminal; we will never be on the side of hatred for our county or our country.”

Our hope is that we can get past this stain on American history, and find a way to work together for a better tomorrow, for our future generations, the release concluded.

Bentley and several other Delta County residents took the eight day round trip to the Capitol. The DCI reached out to the local Republican leader a few hours following the riots via phone. In response, the Delta County Republican Central Committee released the following press release:

Republicans from the Western Slope joined people driving and flying across the country to join the “Save America March” and support President Trump.

“There were multiple vehicle caravans from all over the United States,” said Delta County Republican chair Roger Bentley. “Pete Miller, Corey Miller, David Justice, Jake Justice, Barbara Hulet, Dani Hulet, Cheryl Robinson, and Jim McCann were a few of the people from our area who made the trip across the country to join an estimate two million-plus people in our nation’s capitol. We even met a couple from Sydney, Australia who had come to D.C. specifically to support President Trump.”

Several attendees from the Delta area eye-witnessed the Capitol being entered.

“The trip to D.C. was really an uplifting experience,” said Bentley. “We did not realize that the President would speak, and we were thrilled that he appeared. I am very glad that I took the time to experience this massive gathering. Those present were very friendly, happy, and excited to see so many like-minded people. I know that it seems, to many people, that President Trump’s concession speech was a disappointment, but this is just the beginning of the next phase to take back our country. Those of us who went were — and still are — positive and focused, and we hope that all conservatives will see this as the time for the next step in our journey to preserve American freedoms.”

Western Slope Republicans were on the road and in the nation’s Capitol for a total of six days. “It was a long trip,” Bentley stated, “but we had good company all the way and great conversations with many others in the crowd. A lot of ideas were exchanged, and we are recharged and ready to work hard in Delta County.” End of press release.

On Monday, Bentley spoke with the DCI concerning the horrific day at the Capitol in which the GOP chairperson denounced the notion of violence and urged his party to move forward with a peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 20, 2021.

Five persons lost their lives during the siege, including a Capitol police officer who was beaten to death and four Trump supporters who stormed the building, damaged property and attempted to stop the Congress from certifying the election in favor of Biden also lost their lives. One rioter was shot by police and three experienced medical emergencies during the mayhem.

Bentley, a staunch supporter of Trump throughout his administration, said despite the break-in at the Capitol he “still believes what the president believes about the election,” that it was stolen.

“I am in support of Donald Trump and I believe that the election was stolen and I will support peaceful transition of power when it is resolved ... when the transfer of power actually takes place,” Bentley said, referring to the inauguration on Jan. 20.

As to the claim that Trump’s speech prior to the march to the Capitol building incited the riot, Bentley said, “No, there was nothing inciteful about his speech, nothing antagonistic, nothing inciteful, his speech was very peaceful and he encouraged (a) peaceful gathering that whole day.”

Days after the event, a number of Republican leaders have begun to urge the party to break from Trump and reclaim the party. (See: Republicans need to take back their party)

“When you ask me which group of Republicans of I fit in with, no I am not a violent, protesting anarchist Republican. I am a Republican that wants law and order, so I support law and order and I also support freedom of speech, freedom to gather, freedom to be in Washington, D.C. and stand with the current President of the United States of America,” Bentley said.

In the past week, the FBI has issued warnings that more violence could be coming to all 50 state capitols prior to the inauguration. Bentley addressed the possibility that armed pro-Trump mobs could wreak more violence in the nation.

“No, I don’t support that. What good does it do to go to the state capitol and protest? I will not support a violent protest in any fashion whether it be at the state capitol or the Nation’s Capitol,” said Bentley, adding that he did not witness any violent acts in the area where he was attending the march.

“I talked to a group of over 40 people yesterday and I told them the biggest thing that comes out of this event is soul searching on the individual basis and strengthening our own character, so that we move forward in a positive direction. And it was very well received.”

Delta County Democratic chair, Debora Fisk was the only local leader to call out Trump in connection with the violent attack on the Capitol.

“Today will be written in history books as the day this great country was attacked by domestic terrorist encouraged by the President to take our Nation’s Capitol by force with lethal weapons,” Fisk said. “This saddens us, that mutiny and treason have taken place to try to undermine our Democracy.”

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