‘Livid’ lawmakers condemn ‘inciting language’ in reckless rally rhetoric

Illinois Capitol News

FILE – In this Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 file photo, supporters of President Donald Trump gather outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar)

Rep. Miller declared he’s “in a great cultural war” against “dangerous Democrat terrorists”

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — Illinois lawmakers expressed disgust and dismay at the rising threat of political violence on the House floor on Tuesday.

The Illinois National Guard activated 200 members to help secure next week’s presidential inauguration, and Illinois State Police heightened the security presence around the statehouse after an FBI bulletin alerted police in all 50 state capitols about a plot where armed protesters plan to storm government buildings in the days leading up to the presidential inauguration.

“This is a dangerous time in our country,” Rep. Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said. “To see our seat of government under siege, under siege from our own citizens. I don’t care if you’re Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or independent. Something’s wrong, man. Something’s really wrong.”

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo, Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington. For America’s allies and rivals alike, the chaos unfolding during Donald Trump’s final days as president is the logical result of four years of global instability brought on by the man who promised to change the way the world viewed the United States. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

Butler was one of several lawmakers who condemned the reckless rhetoric from Rep. Chris Miller (R-Oakland), one of his colleagues who railed against “dangerous Democrat terrorists” in a Facebook livestream video outside the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

“We’re engaged in a great cultural war to see which worldview will survive,” Miller shouted over the crowd noise, moments before a mob overran the U.S. Capitol.

Without addressing him by name, Rep. Carol Ammons (D-Urbana) criticized Miller’s “inciting language,” before drawing comparisons between the indelible images of insurrection and violent scenes depicted in a white supremacist novel.

“They didn’t show up for a friendly rally,” Ammons said. “They showed up with the intent to do the harm that they read about in ‘The Turner Diaries‘ that many of you probably have copies of.”

“You think about the lynch ropes they hung from the Capitol,” Ammons said. “They don’t intend to have a conversation with us. They came there to inflict harm and pain on this country.”

Rep. Bob Morgan (D-Highwood) said Miller’s speech made him “livid,” and pointed out that his radical battle cry came “just minutes before rallygoers crushed a police officer to death.”

“We must ensure that this attack on the heart of our democracy is met with clear repudiation, an unambiguous message that those responsible and those that directly incited that mob are held accountable,” Morgan said.

Lights from police vehicles light up Pennsylvania Avenue as people walk from the Capitol, seen in the distance, in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

“We had a lot of Republicans out there that day going to a so called rally that ended up in an insurrection in our United States Capitol,” Butler said. “It’s wrong. Words really matter, folks. Words really matter. And if you’re not stepping up and denouncing this, no matter where you fall on the political spectrum, I don’t have a place for you. Because you need to denounce this.”

While state lawmakers expressed outrage over the scenes of sedition they saw from afar, members of Congress felt the threat more directly.

“The Capitol police saved my life,” U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL) said. “The people in the gallery are heroes without question.”

Congressman Rodney Davis recounted a similar tale in an interview with our news partners at the Decatur Herald and Review.

“They had guns, they had weapons, they had ropes to scale the Capitol, they had pepper spray, they had zip ties,” he said. “From eye witness events, they wanted to know where Nancy (Pelosi) was, they wanted to know where (Mike) Pence was.”

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

“It’s tragic that we’ve got a country that people feel like they can commit acts of violence because they are inspired by politics” Davis said.

Capitol police are now investigating a menacing voicemail left at Davis’ district office in Normal.

“You are responsible for the U.S. Capitol being invaded for the first time in over 200 years,” the caller said on January 7th, before wishing death upon the Congressman and his family.

“I hope your family stays safe because God knows who’s coming for them,” a man’s voice said in the voice message. “I pray God comes for them because the Lord will definitely smite the [expletive] out of all of you. In Jesus’ name may you die… die a horrible [expletive] death.”

U.S. Capitol police believe the call came from a phone number linked to Barzin Emami, a 39-year-old political operative who has worked on several Democratic political campaigns over the years. Emami could not be reached for comment.

When Davis returned to the Capitol Tuesday night, he and his colleagues in Congress walked through metal detectors and a much heavier security presence.

Metal detectors for lawmakers are installed in the corridor around the House of Representatives chamber after a mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol last week, in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The escalating tensions lay bare an American politics burning with anger: anger at a raging virus that’s hard to see; anger at racial violence that’s harder to watch; and anger boiling over after a hotly contested election that was impossible to ignore.

Witnessing a nation writhing in a tempest of distrust and disillusion, the state representative from Abraham Lincoln’s hometown recalled a history that offers a grim warning of where the path of political violence could lead.

“The favorite son of this city was murdered because of a civil war as he was president,” Butler said. “I’m not gonna see a civil war on my watch. I can tell you that.”

Tuesday morning, the FBI and Secret Service arrested an Illinois man for threatening politically motivated assassinations.

Federal prosecutors charged Louis Capriotti, a 45-year-old Chicago Heights man, for leaving a threatening voicemail for a member of Congress from New Jersey.

According to charging documents, Capriotti said if certain individuals “think that Joe Biden is going to put his hand on the Bible and walk into that [expletive] White House on January 20th, they’re sadly [expletive] mistaken.” 

Prosecutors say Capriotti threatened to “surround the [expletive] White House and we will kill any [expletive] Democrat that steps on the [expletive] lawn.”

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