Dalton residents look back on Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol attack

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States

Jan. 5—Dalton resident Lucy Jones said she was working at home on Jan. 6, 2021, when she noticed a commotion on her TV.

"I had the TV on in the background," she said. "I really wasn't paying attention. But I look up and there's all these idiots pushing their way into the (U.S. Capitol)."

Jan. 6 was the day that members of Congress gathered to count the votes of the Electoral College for the 2020 presidential election. It was also the day thousands of people came to Washington, D.C., at the urging of then-President Donald Trump to support his unproven claims that he had lost the election because of widespread fraud, and to hear him speak on the Ellipse, where he told the crowd they were "going to walk down to the Capitol."

Around 2 p.m. numerous people began to breach the doors and windows of the Capitol, where the members of Congress were meeting. Federal officials estimate some 1,200 people entered the building.

"I had no idea what they were doing," said Jones. "I saw people wandering around, taking selfies, kicking on doors, stealing things. I guess for souvenirs. I saw one guy just running around screaming like an idiot. It was embarrassing. I read that a lot of people were hurt. I didn't see that, but I believe it."

Federal prosecutors have charged more than 725 people with crimes in connection with the attack on the Capitol. About 640 were charged with entering a restricted area, and another 75 were charged with entering a restricted area with a deadly weapon. Hundreds face charges ranging from resisting arrest to impeding an officer to assault. Some 145 people have pleaded guilty to misdemeanors so far, and 20 others have pleaded guilty to felonies. So far, no one has been charged with insurrection, sedition or treason.

Prosecutors also have not asked judges to impose harsher sentences called for when crimes qualify as an act of terrorism. But Politico reports that behind the scenes prosecutors in some cases have agreed not to call for such sentencing enhancements in return for cooperation from the defendants.

On Tuesday, Matthew Webler of Decatur was charged with entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, disorderly conduct in the Capitol building, and parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol building in connection with the attack.

Four people died during the attack, all of them identified as Trump supporters. Ashli Babbitt was shot by a U.S. Capitol Police officer as she attempted to enter the Speaker's Lobby. Two others died of natural causes, one outside the Capitol, and another person from a drug overdose. Law enforcement report some 140 officers were injured.

Five officers died of natural causes or suicide in the following days and weeks.

Dalton resident Honor Rogers said she didn't see the attack when it took place but saw clips of it on the news later and read about it.

"Honestly, it doesn't really stand out in my mind," she said. "It has been such a crazy couple of years, and that seems like just one part of it. It wasn't even the biggest riot we had."

A bipartisan U.S. House of Representatives select committee is investigating the attack and whether participants may have had any coordination with members of the Trump administration or members of Congress.

Rogers said she isn't hopeful the committee will have any impact.

"People are so distrustful," she said. "You can't blame them. You can't believe what either side says about the other. Everything is so partisan these days."

Dalton resident Tom Walters said he thinks Congress should expand the scope of its investigation.

"Why are we not looking at all of the other riots that took place?" he said, referring to protests, some of which turned violent, that were in several cities following the death of Minneapolis, Minnesota, resident George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody on May 25, 2020, when a white officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

In Minneapolis, officials said the riots left two dead and resulted in some $550 million in property damage to 1,500 locations.

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