East County elected officials react to violence at U.S. Capitol
The violent scenes unfolding at the nation's capitol Wednesday sent shock waves across the nation, and were felt as far away as East Multnomah County where elected leaders were quick to condemn the actions taken by far-right insurgents.
For Democratic state Rep. Anna Williams, who's district includes East Gresham, Troutdale and Corbett, the violence in Washington, D.C., Wednesday, reminded her of the recent day when the Oregon Capitol was stormed.
"On Dec. 21, I watched from my office window while armed extremists tried to force their way into our state capitol. After four years of being empowered by a president who disrespects democracy, humanity and anything that stands to diminish his personal power, it's not surprising that his supporters have resorted to violence and insurrection," she said.
"So, while I'm sadly not surprised by the events in Washington, D.C., (Wednesday), I worry that it has only emboldened people who continue to believe the president, who — despite a complete lack of credible evidence — continues to insist that Joe Biden's victory was fraudulent. Our state and our nation have been torn apart by people's inability to tell the difference between fact and propaganda. This attempted coup is based entirely on disinformation, spread by cynical elected officials who refuse to accept the will of the voters."
Williams wasn't alone with her disgust, which was shared by each elected official contacted Wednesday afternoon by The Outlook and Sandy Post news reporters.
Travis Stovall, Gresham's newly inaugurated mayor, denounced the actions in Washington, D.C., and called for progress to win out over violence.
"We are at a pivotal moment in our country, where the very fundamental truth of democracy is under attack," Stovall said. "Our system is by no means perfect. I'd be the first to say let us raise our voices when we see that injustice is being done. But violence is never the answer. And those of us elected by the people to lead our cities, states and country have an immense responsibility to use our words to inspire, to heal and unite."
"I am deeply troubled by what I witnessed yesterday," Stovall continued. "Today, we must move forward, reaffirm our commitment to the right of the people to elect those who they choose, and do the hard work to ensure justice, unity and healing in the months to come."
Watching the violence occurring across the country reminded Gresham City Council President Eddy Morales of an incident that occurred last summer: A large contingent of protestors, spearheaded by members of the Proud Boys, descended upon Gresham City Hall in June, threatening to pull down a Black Lives Matter flag that was being flown after its placement was unanimously endorsed by the City Council.
Morales went to stand alongside other community members at the flag pole that afternoon, preventing the group from destroying city property.
"We shouldn't normalize attacks on our democracy," Morales said Wednesday. "As an elected official and resident I stood in protest of that hate, and I will continue to do that — we should all be doing that."
Morales described the events in Washington, D.C., and Salem as the "ugliest side of our country" that was given room to grow by President Trump and other elected leaders.
"It is important to call it what it is — this is what terrorism looks like," Morales said.
Wood Village Mayor Scott Harden issued this rebuke.
"A president with a blind spot for the truth encouraging insurgents with a blind spot for the president's abhorrent behavior," Harden said. "Today, insurgents breached our (nation's) Capitol building. It was hardly different than the Shiite Militia attacking the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad in 2019. Only this time, our president was complicit in the attack."
Meanwhile, Troutdale Mayor-elect Randy Lauer, who will be sworn into office on Tuesday, Jan. 12, bristled at the violence and the possibility that it would cause deeper divides in the social and political landscapes.
"Anger and violence is never the way," Lauer said. "We're on the precipice of change in this country and change is difficult to say the least. But, when we meet that change with hostility, we only create a more difficult situation than before."
Lauer called for a resurgence of self-responsibility and self-awareness.
"We seem to have lost (that) some years ago and that will be vital in getting over the hurdles that lay ahead of us," he said.
Reporters Brittany Allen, Christopher Keizur, Teresa Carson and Editor/Publisher Steve Brown contributed to this story.
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