Steve Arnett of Boone County was in Washington, D.C., last Wednesday when riots erupted that saw the Capitol breached, but he says it wasn’t MAGA supporters who created mayhem.
Arnett, 70, said he has lived in highly populated areas, but the gathering at the rally was like nothing he’d witnessed.
“I swear it was the biggest group of people I’ve ever seen in my life,” Arnett said. “I think this made the Million Man March in the past pale by comparison.”
Arnett said the gathering was like a giant family.
“If someone had an extra sandwich and they thought you might not have anything, they’d give you a sandwich,” he recalls. “Everybody you met was the most loving, non-violent people you could ever see.”
But, he said people started noticing other people in the crowd dressed in all black with full face coverings. They weren’t talking and none of them were wearing any kind of MAGA gear.
“And they were definitely Antifa people,” he said, adding that four busloads of people were brought in and escorted to the scene by DC Police.
He said one man with a bullhorn was calling out, “I can’t breathe,” over and again. Those people he suspected were from the Black Lives Matter movement.
He said he was present when President Trump addressed the crowd on the Ellipse in front of the White House.
“It was just a beautiful speech,” Arnett said, “nothing promoting violence or anything.” He said groups of people were signing “God Bless America,” even in front of the Capitol. Then, some attendees started storming the building and scaling the walls.
“They were either super, far-right extreme MAGA people or BLM and Antifa,” he said.
The people responsible for run-ins with police and damage to the Capitol were only minute percentage of those in attendance, Arnett said, so the characterization of Trump supporters is wrong.
“It should not be labeled a violent protest,” he said. “Our MAGA people were trying to stop some of the violence; we were even protecting the police officers because they were actually showing a lot of restraint.”