Alabama delegation reacts to Capitol ransacking with shock, sadness

Alabama delegation reacts to Capitol ransacking with shock, sadness

By CAROLINE BECK, MARY SELL AND TODD STACY, Alabama Daily News

Alabama’s congressional delegation members and staff were safe and accounted for amid Wednesday’s ransacking of the U.S. Capitol, their offices confirmed to Alabama Daily News. Several made statements and documented their experiences via social media.

Republican Richard Shelby, Alabama’s senior senator and one of the highest ranking lawmakers in Congress, called it “a very dark day” for the country.

“I am safe thanks to the protection and swift action by our law enforcement officials,” Shelby said on Twitter Wednesday afternoon. “Our Founding Fathers warned against mob rule. Law and order must be established and maintained.”

Shelby was the only Republican in Alabama’s congressional delegation not to support challenging Electoral College votes from certain states lost by President Donald Trump in November.

Rep. Mo Brooks, a Republican from Huntsville led those efforts in recent weeks and spoke to Trump supporters Wednesday morning at a rally on the National Mall.

“Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” he said to supporters. Later, thousands from that rally descended upon the Capitol and stormed security barriers.

When the Capitol was breached, Brooks tweeted several times from the House floor as Capitol Police locked the building down and evacuated lawmakers and staff.

“Tear gas dispersed in Capitol Rotunda. Congressmen ordered to grab gas masks under chairs in case have to leave in haste!” he tweeted.

After order had been restored, Brooks said that he hoped everyone who illegally breached the Capitol is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, noting that he himself had been shot at when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball game practice in 2015.

“Senseless,” he said. “Achieves nothing productive.”

Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, was initially locked inside the House Chamber during the breach.

“Praying that this chaos dissipates and no one gets hurt,” she said.  “… I am sheltering in a safe location and praying for the safety of our nation, members of Congress, congressional staff, law enforcement, and Capitol Hill residents.”

Jerry Carl, a Republican from Mobile in his first week as a U.S. Representative, said Americans have the right to protest, but violence is never the answer.

“I’m praying for the safety of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the law enforcement protecting us,” Carl said on Twitter.

Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, said in a statement to ADN that he condemns the violence at the Capitol.

“Lawlessness and anarchy are never the answer,” Moore said. “We are – and always will be – a nation of law and order. While I support Americans’ 1st Amendment rights, I strongly condemn any and all violence and fully support our brave Capitol Police and LEOs.”

Moore had made comments contesting the results of the presidential election and was planning to vote against certifying the vote on Wednesday.

Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, asked for prayers for the country on Twitter.

“God has brought this nation through many dark days over the past 240 plus years,” Aderholt said. “We have always been able to settle our disputes peaceably. I believe He will continue to guide and protect this nation. However, as a nation we need to see His guidance in peace. He is in full control!”

Staff members for U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer, R-Birmingham, and Mike Rogers, R-Saks, confirmed that the congressmen were safe and all staff were accounted for, but had no further comment as of press time.

Palmer later said on Twitter that he condemned the actions seen at the capitol.

“Thank you to all who have reached out with concern for my staff and me,” Palmer said. “We are safe and grateful for our dedicated Capitol Police. Please join me in praying for the healing of our country. This is a sad day for everyone and the scenes we witnessed today were unacceptable.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville responded early Thursday with a statement condemning the violence and committing to seeing the electoral process through. Tuberville objected to the electoral votes of Arizona but did not engage in debate on the matter. 

“Yesterday was a sad day for our great country. I strongly condemn the violence and actions we saw from those who stormed the Capitol. It undermines the freedoms we enjoy as Americans, and it has no place in our democracy,” Tuberville said it a statement. 

State Rep. Chris England, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, laid blame for the riot squarely on Trump and his supporters in Congress, including the Alabama delegation.

“Today, during a joint session of Congress to fulfill the legal obligation to count the votes of the Electoral College, a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building. This mob was encouraged by Pres. Donald Trump, Rep. Mo Brooks, and others at a rally before they breached the doors of the Capitol. They disrupted the peaceful transfer of power, broke the law, and must be prosecuted for their sedition,” England said in a statement.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said Wednesday her party strongly condemns any violence and unlawful actions.

“We support law enforcement efforts to control and arrest any person who is violating laws and causing harm to property or people,” Lathan said. “These actions are not American and cannot be tolerated.

We strongly support peaceful assembly and protest as guaranteed by the First Amendment. The Electoral College voting process, which is allowed by the Constitution, must be allowed to continue without disruption. It is important that citizens contact their representatives to have their voices heard in an orderly and respectful manner.”