A newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia is facing calls to resign and could be imprisoned after filming himself storming the US Capitol building and whipping up the angry mob with chants of “freedom”
Derrick Evans, who was sworn into West Virginia’s House of delegates last month, wore a black helmet as he forced his way into the building among a crush of rioters, live streaming the whole episode on the internet.
In the now-deleted video, Evans can be heard encouraging people to push into the building, shouting: “They’re in! They’re in! They’re in!” when the doors were finally breached.
Referring to himself in third person, he then shouts: “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”
Other footage shows him warning people not to vandalise anything, as he wandered around the Capitol Rotunda, where historical paintings depict the republic's founding.
Derrick Evans, a newly elected lawmaker from West Virginia, livestreamed video showing him and a mob of rioters forcing their way into the U.S. Capitol.
Evans later deleted the video, but a version of it was shared by West Virginia Democrat Paula Jean Swearengin pic.twitter.com/l4fVOtn7m8
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) January 7, 2021
But despite what it looks like, Mr Evans has released a statement saying that he was not a part of the mob, and was in fact “simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”
Who he was working for is not clear, and why he deleted the footage if it was filmed in good journalistic faith is also not known.
In a statement on Facebook on Wednesday evening, Mr. Evans said that he has “traveled across the country to film many different events,” and that earlier he had “had the opportunity to film at another event in DC.”
“I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred,” he wrote. “I was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”
West Virginia locals have not bought his excuse and around 10,000 people have signed an online petition calling for him to be removed from office.
The speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates, Roger Hanshaw, said he could be facing something more serious.
In a statement on Wednesday night Mr Hanshaw said that he had “not spoken to Delegate Evans about today’s events,” though he said he saw what was posted on social media.
He added that “storming government buildings and participating in a violent intentional disruption of one of our nation’s most fundamental political institutions is a crime that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”