Lawmakers representing southern Wisconsin condemned the violence on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.
One former state legislator called it a coup attempt.
Sharing a video while on lockdown, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan said President Donald Trump was “inciting domestic terrorism” during an earlier speech before his supporters forcibly stormed the U.S. Capitol.
“Unfortunately, Donald Trump at a rally today basically told his supporters to storm the Capitol and guess what? His supporters sheepishly, blindly followed what he said and have now broken into the U.S. Capitol building,” Pocan said in a video shared on Twitter at about 2 p.m. Wednesday. “We’re on lockdown. I’m in my office right now.”
Still, he said lawmakers will get the process of certifying the election results “done.” That process had started earlier Wednesday before pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol.
“But it’s a sad day for America when the president is inciting domestic terrorism and acting so incredibly irresponsibly because he’s not happy that he lost the election,” he said.
Rep. Bryan Steil, the Janesville Republican who represents Wisconsin's 1st District, tweeted at 4:20 p.m., condemning "actions of criminals inside the United States Capitol."
Steil in his statement thanked law enforcement for efforts to maintain safety and repeated that people expressing their First Amendment rights should follow the law.
The chaotic protests in Washington, D.C., happened fewer than 24 hours before state Rep. Sue Conley, D-Janesville, was set to participate in her first vote in the Wisconsin Assembly.
Conley, who was elected in November, said she feels confident state officials are preparing for possible protests at the state Capitol, but she had not received any official correspondence regarding safety at Thursday's session.
"I think what we are watching (at the U.S. Capitol) is heartbreaking," Conley said. "I don't think this is who we are as Americans. I am worried about how we get past this and heal from this."
Conley said she is proud of how proactive Gov. Tony Evers was Tuesday by sending National Guard members to Kenosha in case of protests there after officials decided not to charge the police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, last summer.
With that in mind, Conley said she was surprised U.S. Capitol law enforcement was not more prepared, given that the president has continued to urge his supporters to come to Washington.
"We need leaders that lead professionally," Conley said.
Debra Kolste, the Janesville Democrat who stepped down from the state Assembly this month, called the violence on Capitol Hill a coup attempt.
“That’s what it is when people try to forcefully take power, and that’s what they were doing,” Kolste said.
“We know the people that were there are the vast minority, even of the people who might believe this hype,” Kolste said, referring to Trump’s falsehoods about the presidential election being fraudulent.
Kolste said she was glad to hear Republican leaders decrying the Capitol invasion and blaming Trump for it. She said she has hope that some of the people who believe Trump’s rhetoric don’t support such violence.
“My concern is, what would’ve happened if this was people of color, what would’ve happened to that crowd?” Kolste said.
She noted that peaceful protesters in front of the White House were tear-gassed in June to make way for Trump to pose with a Bible in front of a nearby church.
Gas and flash-bangs were seen Wednesday, but it appeared those measures were not used until after protesters had forced their way into the Capitol.
State Sen. Steve Nass, R-La Grange, also released a statement.
“Violence and mob actions committed by any group can’t be tolerated in a free society,” he said in the statement. “The violence and mob actions we are witnessing at the U.S. Capitol today must be met with swift and immediate justice aimed at those individuals committing criminal acts.”
Nass said those of all political beliefs are allowed to protest, but they are not allowed to “threaten public safety in any way.”
“As I did during the rioting and mob violence that ravaged our cities last year, I am condemning the violent thugs involved with the reprehensible conduct that has occurred at the U.S. Capitol today,” he continued. “I support law enforcement utilizing all means necessary to restore law and order.”
State Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, said what happened Wednesday was an “atrocity.”
She said in a statement that Joe Biden won the presidency “fair and square.”
“One of the many things that makes our democracy special is the peaceful transition of power between administrations after an election,” she said. “President Trump’s inability to put what is the best for our country above his own needs threatens our Democracy and Constitution.”
Gazette reporters Jonah Beleckis, Ashley McCallum and Frank Schultz contributed to this story.