Former US state lawmaker who attended Capitol riots maintains that Jan. 6 event was ‘a protest’

Derrick Evans, who was jailed for 3 months, says ‘I didn't do anything that deserves that sort of punishment’

Muhammed Enes Calli  | 05.01.2023 - Update : 05.01.2023
Former US state lawmaker who attended Capitol riots maintains that Jan. 6 event was ‘a protest’ Police intervenes in US President Donald Trump’s supporters who breached security and entered the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. ( Mostafa Bassim - Anadolu Agency )


After losing the 2020 election, former US President Donald Trump exhorted thousands of his supporters to march on the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 6, 2021.

Refusing to concede defeat, Trump addressed a sprawling crowd at the National Mall.

"We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen. You don't concede when there's theft involved,” he told his followers, fueling their anger with claims of election fraud.

Over 2,000 Trump supporters -- some of them armed and who believed that the election was stolen by Democrats -- stormed the Capitol, entering the Senate chamber.

Derrick Evans, then a state lawmaker in West Virginia, was among those who responded to Trump’s call to come to Washington for a rally. He arrived in the capital by bus, entered the Capitol building wearing a helmet, and his life totally changed.

"I saw a tweet from President Trump asking people to show up, so I decided to go, to show up that day, as there'd be a lot of people peacefully protesting. So I showed up to go do the same thing and rode a bus from West Virginia to Washington, D.C.," Evans told Anadolu Agency in a Zoom interview ahead of the second anniversary of the incident.

Asked why he took part, Evans stressed that it "was not a riot but a protest."

"I showed up there to peacefully exercise my natural God-given rights of free speech to protest a stolen election here in the United States of America."

We are in! We are in baby!

Evans had just been elected to the House of Delegates in his home state when Trump made the call for his supporters to converge on Washington.

He quickly gathered a following after streaming a live video that day that later went viral on Facebook, exclaiming in the Capitol building: "We're in! We're in, baby!" The video was later deleted.

He said he did not damage anything and was not involved in a violent act.

"Basically, I just chanted things such as ‘Stop the steal’ and chanted for President Trump, chanted 'USA', sang the national anthem. And that was really the extent of it. I didn't harm anyone. I didn't destroy anything."

He was arrested two days later and was sentenced to three months in prison for taking part in the mob that attacked the building.

Evans was charged with "knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority" and "violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds.

"I think it's unjust. I think it's ridiculous. We had Antifa and BLM (Black Lives Matter) rioters who burned down half our country, and then nothing was done to these people. And then they turn around and take peaceful protesters such as myself, 70-year-old grandmas and threw us in prison. It's pitiful."

As a result of the riot, five people died and at least 964 people were arrested and charged with crimes.

Protesters vandalized and looted as members of Congress and then-Vice President Mike Pence were evacuated by security forces.

For most Americans, it was the darkest day in the country’s history.

No regrets

Evans still does not regret his actions “because I didn't do anything that deserves that sort of punishment."

He regrets, however, putting himself in a situation that allowed the "tyrannical federal government" to charge him and put him in prison for his peaceful acts.

"But at the same time, I'm not going to regret standing up for what I believe in, and standing up for the opportunity to preserve liberty and freedom for my children and future generations," he said.

It was a far cry from his tone at a court hearing last year, when he apologized for his role in the attack and said he was "caught up in the moment."

Asked how his life changed and his relations with his family and friends were affected after he was jailed, he said: "The people who have always been there for me continued to be there for me throughout this entire ordeal. They saw what I actually did on that day. They knew I wasn't violent. They knew it was destructive, and they've been there and have had my back this entire time."

Biden administration not ‘legitimate’

Evans is a loyal Trump supporter who believes the 2020 election was stolen from the former president, and for him, the Biden administration is not "legitimate."

Joe Biden “is a terrible president. He is a failed leader with ridiculous policies (which) have just undermined what Trump did for our country and for the world. And he is actually destroying this country right now."

He describes himself as an ultra MAGA (Make America Great Again) Trump supporter. Asked for his thoughts on the criticisms of the Capitol attack which damaged US democracy and institutions, he said these claims are "nothing more than globalist party mainstream media talking points."

"We have a natural God-given right to free speech that is constitutionally protected in America by the United States Constitution. And what I was doing that day was exercising those natural God-given rights that are protected by the United States Constitution."

According to him, the Capitol attackers were wrongfully charged.

"It's very sad. It's unfortunate. Hopefully, the Republican leadership in Congress, in America, will have enough backbone to do their own Jan. 6 investigation and get some answers to what really happened that day."

The January 6th Committee concluded a nearly 18-month investigation in December last year and asked the Justice Department to pursue charges against Trump for his efforts to overturn the elections.

"It wasn't a real committee. That's why it's called the ‘select committee.’ There wasn't a real committee. This is nothing more than a kangaroo committee. It's a witch hunt," Evans said.

Evans resigned from office on Jan. 9, 2021, but he is considering running for office in the Senate.

"I announced an exploratory committee to potentially run for the US Congress in West Virginia. We are still politically involved, and we will continue to be politically involved."

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