GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Busloads of West Michigan Trump supporters were in Washington as chaos unfolded at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday.
As Congress was in session, the perimeter of the building was breached and protesters went inside, smashing windows and forcing senators and the vice president into hiding.
The Muskegon County Republican Party organized its own trip, sending about a hundred people to protest the election results. While the group says it couldn’t have predicted the chaos that unfolded, the unrest hasn’t wavered members’ support of the president.
News 8 caught up with the group via video chat on their bus ride home from Washington Wednesday night.
“Don’t blame it on President Trump,” Debbie Null of Muskegon said. “He did not call us there to have any kind of violence, he called us there to just show our love for our country.”
The group said it went to join other Trump supporters protesting the election after the president invited others to join him there.
Null said the day started peaceful.
“(There were) patriotic songs, prayer throughout the day, it was a peaceful protest,” she said.
Null said their group distanced themselves from the demonstration once things turned violence. The Muskegon group blamed the violence on agitators.
“The clips that we’re seeing on the news are making it sound like it’s patriots that did this,” Null said. “It’s absolutely not patriots who did this. We saw patriots pulling agitators away from the police.”
Null said she is not in any way related to the pair of West Michigan brothers with the last name Null who last year were charged in connection to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Dustin Magnuson, who was also on the bus headed back to Muskegon, gave his account of what unfolded.
“There was a man, he had this tan bag and he pulled out this legit gas mask from his bag,” Magnuson told News 8. “There were organized agitators that hijacked our event.”
News 8 has not confirmed that those that broke into the Capitol building were a part of another group.
The Muskegon supporters weren’t the only group to travel from West Michigan to Washington. Audra Johnson of Grand Rapids said she and a group of friends were also there taking part in the protest.
“I know personally that there was (election) fraud, so I felt it was very, very important that I be out here to represent West Michigan,” Johnson said.
Officials nationwide have insisted that there is no evidence of election fraud. Several allegations put forth have been debunked as misunderstandings.
Johnson told News 8 she watched as protesters stormed the Capitol.
“There was a group of patriots that took over the Capitol,” she said. “I went up to the Capitol and saw what was going on and honestly as a patriot, I found it quite beautiful.”
Johnson standing by the unrest that took place, justifying the behavior that has since been condemned by leaders on both sides of the aisle.
“I think it was an accumulation of people being frustrated,” she said. “We feel like our voices aren’t being heard.”