Making his voice heard

Rod Taylor, far right, was one of 14 people from Bandon to travel to Washington D.C., to protest the results of the presidential election Jan. 6.

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When a mob in the nation’s capitol captured the attention of the world Jan. 6, a handful of Coos County residents were there.

According to one attendee, 14 people from Bandon were in attendance at the day’s protests-turned-riot. Rodney Taylor, who was arrested the same evening for a curfew violation, told The World what he experienced.

Taylor said he and his group started the day around 8:45 a.m. with a crowd to the east of the capitol building. Throughout the morning, the crowd grew as more supporters arrived.

“It was a crowd so big, I couldn’t see the edges of it,” Taylor said.

Around noon, President Trump began speaking at a rally near the White House, several blocks from the opposite side of the capitol building from where Taylor was located. As the president’s speech concluded and he encouraged attendees to march to the capitol, the group did exactly that, arriving at the building’s west barricades.

Back on his side of the capitol, Taylor said the crowd continued to grow.

“The mood overall was one of a combination of righteous indignation and jubilation,” Taylor said

There, Taylor said some individuals — who he felt “didn’t fit the model of patriots and Trump supporters” he’d seen at two other recent visits he’d made to the capitol — started pushing against he barricades.

Eventually, after multiple attempts and scuffles with police officers, the crowd was successful in breaking through the barricades.

“This time the resistance from the capitol police was more subdued,” Taylor said. “They just let go. They backed off and allowed the barricades to be opened.”

There, Taylor and the crowd around him chose to follow, crossing the courtyard behind the barricade and moving toward the building. He moved forward in hopes of being a “positive presence” amidst the volatile crowd, he said.

“I felt that my presence ascending the capitol steps would be a statement,” he said.

Once on the capitol steps, scuffles with police continued.

“If they had wanted to hold the crowd back on the stairs, they could have,” Taylor said of the capitol police, noting that officers didn’t seem to stick with a consistent crowd control strategy despite having non-lethal munitions at their disposal.

The crowd continued pushing against police until they were up to the door of the building. Taylor said at one point he attempted to help an injured capitol police officer escape the “crushing mass” of supporters.

Eventually, the heavy capitol door opened — Taylor isn’t sure how, but thinks some members of the crowd were already inside and pushed it open, having broken through the building’s west side earlier.

Then the crowd on his side began moving into the building.

“It was unclear exactly what was going on,” Taylor said. Pepper spray and mace had been deployed.

As he pushed back on someone attempting to take a painting from the building, Taylor said one of his feet slipped across the threshold of the building — but Taylor said he stayed outside the rest of the time.

Still, others in the crowd jammed into the building. Photos, videos and accounts from attendees, journalists and capitol staff tell the story of what happened next: A mob rushed through, ransacking congressional offices, breaking into the legislative chambers and forcing the evacuation of elected officials.

Five people died in the chaos and clashes with security.

“I think that the totality of events that unfolded ended up being damaging to the message that I wished to convey,” Taylor said.

After his altercation with the painting, Taylor said he moved back away from the door, back onto the steps of the capitol. He stayed there until around 4 p.m., when he moved to the west side of the building to find the group he’d come with. He and the others he could find returned to their hotel just before the beginning of a 6 p.m. curfew imposed by the city.

But once at the hotel, his night wasn’t over — in fact, it was just getting started. Around 7 p.m., Taylor said he and others went to the hotel’s front stoop to watch as police were staging on the streets.

When he stepped into the street and approached some of the police, he was arrested for violating the city’s curfew. He said he was walking over with his hand up to show police a video of violence from earlier in the day, and that two others were arrested with him.

“The three of us were standing in the street out in front of the hotel for about 40 minutes,” Taylor said. The three were shuffled into a police vehicle, then to a processing facility with around 75 others and then to a holding room before paying a $25 fine and being discharged.

D.C. court records confirm that Taylor was charged with one count of violating the city’s curfew. At least two others from Oregon were arrested for entering federal property or violating the city’s curfew order.

Looking back, Taylor said crossing the barricade wasn’t what he’d originally planned.

“I thought the intention was to surround the capitol,” he said. He thought surrounding the building would send a message to senators and representatives inside who were considering objections to the presidential election the crowd felt had been stolen.

But once all together, the crowd of people — a mix of casual Trump supporters, the morning’s rally attendees, militia groups and others — became hard to contain.

“A certain dynamic happens in a large crowd like that,” Taylor said.

Reporter Zack Demars can be reached at worldnews3@countrymedia.net.

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