TOPEKA — Supporters of President Donald Trump rallied Wednesday at the Kansas Statehouse in opposition of election results being certified during a peaceful and planned demonstration — a contrast to the chaos unfolding at the same time at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
More than 100 people gathered outside on the steps of the Statehouse in the early afternoon, many carrying flags or signs in support of the president and repeating baseless claims perpetuated by the president about a rigged election. At about 1 p.m., a handful of protestors entered the building and gathered in the first floor rotunda.
Authorities said the group had permits for the rally and were allowed inside because of chilly, wet weather.
Sean McCoy, who appeared to lead the group inside the building, said the goal of the rally was to calmly have their voices heard.
“The voice of the people is being silenced by Democrats,” McCoy said. “Don’t let them get into our head. Stay calm so when we need to act, we can.”
Participants in the gathering said they do not want to be held captive to a fraudulent election system and corrupt democracy. They also expressed skepticism about the severity of COVID-19, with few wearing a mask.
The protest occurred at the same time as Congress was supposed to certify the election of president-elect Joe Biden. That process was halted when pro-Trump protestors stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington.
Outside the Capitol in Topeka, protestors chanted “stop the steal” and “four more years.” Several people were invited to speak to the crowd, including former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.
Kobach, who built his political career on perpetuating false claims of voter fraud, spoke at length about the election certification process and his time leading Trump’s short-lived voter fraud commission. The commission found no evidence of widespread fraud, but Kobach blamed journalists for the commission’s failure.
“The media have been engaged in soft totalitarianism where you suppress the truth and elevate the lie over and over again so that those of us who speak the truth are called crazy,” Kobach said.
Once inside the state Capitol, protestors moved around the building, stopping to look around at Capitol building memorabilia and artwork before settling into the first-floor rotunda. There, McCoy and a few others spoke about their frustrations.
Jason Murray came out to the protest from Wichita with his father, Dan. He said these protests are necessary to counteract the constant negative news reports about the president.
“I was planning to take a bus to D.C., but I decided to do something here,” Murray said. “I just wanted to show support for President Trump.”
At about 3 p.m., protestors left the Statehouse to meet at a nearby bar and watch news updates of the rioting in D.C.
Kansas Highway Patrol Capt. Amber Harrington said Capitol police officers reported no arrests but were prepared in case of an outburst. Kansas law allows concealed carry of firearms inside the Statehouse, but none of the protesters appeared to be armed.
“We didn’t have any issues inside,” Harrington said. “They came in, they followed directions, and they were very cooperative.”
Harrington said legislators and employees working in the building were notified beforehand of the protest. Few lawmakers were in the building at the time because the Legislature does not convene until Monday.