Lynbrook, East Rockaway residents decry rioting at the Capitol

Mike Smollins for LI Herald

Originally published in Long Island Herald

The riot perpetrated by a mob of insurrectionists at the U.S. Capitol on the afternoon of Jan. 6 spurred plenty of local reaction.

On a day that lawmakers were expected to spend debating the certification of Electoral College votes in the presidential election, many of them ended up barricading themselves in the chambers of the building as thousands of supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol.

The rioters overran police barricades, scaled walls and invaded the building. Security officials inside the building had to draw their weapons and barricade the doors to the House chamber with furniture as Democratic and Republican lawmakers huddled together and were instructed to retrieve gas masks.

When order was restored, both houses of Congress reconvened after 6 p.m. and, hours later, early on the morning of Jan 7, certified President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

After the riots, many Lynbrook and East Rockaway residents had a great deal to say.

Responding to a Herald inquiry on Facebook soliciting opinions about what unfolded, John Sullivan wrote in an email that protesting is a right, but breaking the law is not, regardless of whether one supports the Black Lives Matter movement, the Proud Boys or any other group.

“Consistency in prosecution is required,” Sullivan wrote. “A hot stove doesn’t give you a pass every once in a while. If you touch it, you get burned. In order for discipline to be as fair as possible, it should be applied the same. If the government wants to be lenient, then it should apply the leniency consistently with all citizens in the same situation.”

In another email, a resident named Andrew, who requested that his last name not be published, described the events at the Capitol as “horrific,” but added that the defense of police officers is inconsistent.

“Violence is never the answer,” Andrew wrote. “It’s just funny to me because where was this same outrage for the past 10 months? I have family in law enforcement, and to hear anyone lost a life is terrifying and a tragedy, but to hear that a law enforcement officer perished is very saddening. That being said, the insults and violence directed at a member of my family who is a po-lice officer should have been condemned a long time ago . . . why is there a double standard?”

Josh Marguiles noted in an email that he has been involved in electoral politics for 30 years, ranging from school board campaigns to presidential elections, and he said the rioting had nothing to do with politics.

“What we saw last week was mob rule, pure and simple,” Marguiles wrote. “[We saw] police officers attacked, a vigilante hunt the vice president, [and] a group of our representatives cower in fear for their lives. It was ugly, it was criminal, and it was embarrassing.”

Marguiles called the riots “un-American,” and added that while the country is often divided between Republicans and Democrats, “we should all be able to agree that what we saw last week was inexcusable — and that we need to work together to ensure that nothing similar ever happens.”

Many elected officials and lawmakers also shared their opinions about the riot; however, East Rockaway Mayor Bruno Romano declined to comment, and Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach did not return a request for comment.

State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, was vocally opposed to what happened. “Last Wednesday’s mob attack on the Capitol was a disgraceful incident that will leave a dark stain on our nation’s history,” Kaminsky said. “This was not just a symbolic attack on our democracy, but an actual attempt to block our Democratic processes through violence and lawlessness. All those who fanned the flames of insurrection should be held accountable, and those who broke into and defiled the Capitol, and especially those who hurt law enforcement officers, should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”