Gov. Brian Kemp readied the Georgia National Guard Wednesday in response to riots at the U.S. Capitol by President Donald Trump’s supporters protesting the Electoral College vote.
Kemp, who faced intense pressure from Trump and his allies to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia, called Wednesday’s storming of the Capitol “un-American” and “a disgrace.”
“It is unimaginable that we have people in our state and in our country that have been threatening police officers, breaking into government buildings,” Kemp told reporters inside the Georgia Capitol in Atlanta. “This is not the Georgia way and it is not the way of our country.”
A huge crowd of Trump supporters swarmed the U.S. Capitol as House and Senate lawmakers convened Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College win. Trump had egged on his supporters to protest the vote and hailed several Republican lawmakers who planned to protest the certification before chaos broke out, including several congressional lawmakers from Georgia.
Kemp has faced the president’s rage in recent weeks for not stepping in to toss out the Nov. 3 general election results, which showed Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes. On Wednesday, the governor slammed Trump loyalists who have pressured him to order a special legislative session aimed at overturning the election.
“Those of you who have called for a special session: You now know what that would look like,” Kemp said.
Kemp said he is extending an executive order allowing him to mobilize the National Guard that was put in place during protests over the summer against racial injustice and police brutality.
The governor was joined Wednesday by Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who both condemned the riots in Washington, D.C., and urged Trump to disperse the protesters.
“Today is an incredibly sobering reminder of how delicate our democracy truly is,” said Duncan, who for several weeks has called on Trump to drop his fraud claims. “It is also a reminder how dangerous it is for people in power act as if they are more important than that democracy.”
“This is a very sad day,” Ralston said. “The shocking images we have seen from our nation’s capital today are indefensible, un-American and, frankly, heartbreaking.”
The Georgia Senate Republican Caucus also condemned the Trump protesters, saying of Wednesday’s events that “there is no place for such action in this country.”
Some Republican Congress members from Georgia objected to the riots after being forced to lock down in the Capitol rotunda as protesters shattered windows and broke into lawmakers’ offices – though many including U.S Reps. Rick Allen, Barry Loudermilk, Buddy Carter and Marjorie Taylor Greene had earlier pledged to object to the Electoral College certification.
House Democrats from Georgia were unanimous in denouncing the riots, with newly seated U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux going so far as to urge her colleagues to impeach Trump a second time.
U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, who lost to Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock in Tuesday’s runoff election, also condemned the Capitol riots after promising to join House and Senate Republicans objecting to the certification. U.S. Sen. David Perdue was still silent late Wednesday after losing to Democrat Jon Ossoff.
The events in Washington came as Ossoff and Warnock were both set to secure wins in their runoff races for U.S. Senate, giving Democrats control of Congress and the White House for at least the first two years of the incoming Biden administration.
Warnock invoked Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., whose pulpit he presides over at Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, in calling for the country to focus on healing in the wake of Wednesday’s riots.
“Let us each try to be a light to see our country out of this dark moment,” Warnock said.