Virginia state senator attends Trump rally in DC, calls terrorists “patriots”
RICHMOND – In a move that will surprise no one following her combative career, Virginia senator and candidate for governor Amanda Chase (R – Chesterfield) endorsed the actions of right-wing domestic terrorists rioting in the Capitol in support of President Trump Wednesday night.
“I support peaceful protests but I’m telling you when you back people in Virginia and across the United States of America into a corner, you end up with a revolution. And I believe that’s what you’re starting to see,” Chase said.
A mob of right-wing extremists stormed and occupied the Capitol building on Wednesday. Hundreds of these right-wing extremist demonstrators, many of them armed, gathered in Washington D.C. Wednesday. They congregated to protest the certification of the results of the 2020 election.
The event turned riotous after a mob clashed with Capitol police, tearing down barricades, physically attacking law enforcement, and eventually breaching the Capitol building. One civilian, whose identity we don’t know, died from a gunshot wound. They were inside the Capitol building at the time.
Chase Says Terrorists Are ‘Patriots’
Showing up at Donald Trump’s DC rally Wednesday morning, Chase made the first of several videos she then posted to social media. After giving a speech to these domestic terrorists outside the White House, in the first video Chase calls them patriots.
“As you can see, there are many patriots that…we’ve had enough,” said Chase.
According to Chase, the domestic terrorists she endorses are justified in swarming a seat of the US government. She says right-wing extremists must move beyond peaceful protests.
“Whenever a government comes after your constitutional rights, we have every right and reason to resist,” Chase said. “When you back good people, law-abiding citizens into a corner, they will push back when you give them no other options. When you cheat them of their elections, when you take away their constitutional rights and freedoms, you’re backing patriots like myself into a corner.”
In a live-stream on Facebook, Chase claims Virginians came out to disrupt the election process because they feel their constitutional rights are in danger. She says the government’s passage of gun control legislation last year is one reason why right-wing extremists felt the need to storm the Capitol.
“Whenever you go after someone’s gun, you go after their ability to protect themselves,” Chase said.
None of the gun control legislation Northam put his signature on last year took away a person’s right to own a gun. Instead it put in place several common-sense restrictions which intends to limit the accessibility of firearms for people with criminal histories and severe mental illness. These restrictions include limits on the number of guns a Virginian can buy in a month and preventing people deemed dangerous by the court from purchasing a firearm.
Undermining the Election
Like the rest of the extremists demonstrating in the Capitol on Wednesday, Chase says Democrats stole the election from Trump. She did not provide any evidence to back up this claim. Chase has previously made claims of voter fraud in Virginia, but PolitiFact debunked her assertions.
“We can accept honest, fair election results. If our guy doesn’t win, we can accept that. Whenever they lose. That’s not what happened this year. This year I saw it in the General Assembly with my own eyes. I saw election laws that typically protect the integrity of our election process, our secret ballot, destroyed and denigrated,” said Chase.
Chase opposes changes the General Assembly adopted this year. She claims the Assembly repealed voter ID laws, eliminated witness signatures and allowed voters to drop off ballots in unsecured ballot boxes. That’s not accurate.
What Did Virginia Change?
There’s a lot to unpack here, so we’ll go one at a time. First, you still have to verify your ID to cast a ballot in Virginia. This claim keeps getting brought up. And just as quickly, it keeps getting debunked.
Virginians are no longer required to use photo ID at the polls. That part is true. Gov. Ralph Northam signed the bill into law this past February. But again, that doesn’t mean you can just walk in.
If you don’t have a driver’s license or voter ID card, then you have to show one of a limited number of other options. That includes a utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or a signed ID confirmation statement.
The argument was that photo ID laws cut down on fraud, but there’s little evidence to support that. In fact, a joint study released in February said photo IDs have little impact on voter fraud. Enrico Cantoni at the University of Bologna and Vincent Pons at Harvard Business School studied data from 2008 to 2018.
“Results indicate that there is little scope for strict voter identification laws to affect voter turnout,” the paper stated.
Then there’s the claims about “unsecured” drop-off sites. Chase and other General Assembly Republicans repeatedly made this claim during the special session. The new law says each local registrar had to establish a drop-off location at their office. Literally, most set them up right outside the door. Registrars also put a drop-off box at each polling place on Election Day. If the registrar felt their area needed more drop-off sites, they could set up as many as necessary. Surveillance systems monitored the sites, so no one could break in. Every day, a member of the registrar’s office came out and collected the ballots.
Chase Claims Fraud in State Elections
In addition to the presidency, Chase is now also saying that the Democrats stole Virginia’s legislature and executive branch from Republicans.
“As I’m learning more and studying more about Virginia elections, I’m beginning to question many of our elections here in Virginia and whether they are, this is the first year this was done or whether there were years prior. So I have grave concerns about that,” said Chase.
Chase did not provide any evidence to support this claim.
Chase also claims that the government’s enforcement of social distancing guidelines is another example of why her fellow extremists are right to take over the Capitol.
“The government should never be in a situation where they say ‘you must, you have to.’ Authoritatively ‘you do as we tell you to or else.’ Whether we’re talking about a mask, whether we’re talking about a vaccine. That is not the role of government,” said Chase.
Like the rest of the country, Virginia is doing an abysmal job at enforcing social distancing restrictions. Though there is a stay-at-home order in the Commonwealth, there is no enforcement and Virginia’s rate of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
Meg Schiffres is Dogwood’s associate editor. Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.