Government

Reynolds, legislative leaders denounce Capitol violence

They say Iowa Capitol safe from violent protests

Protesters storm the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Protesters storm the Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
/

Iowa legislative leaders and Gov. Kim Reynolds decried violence at the U.S. Capitol and expressed confidence their upcoming session in the Iowa Capitol won’t be marred by similar chaos.

“It was really a sad day for this country. Violence should always be condemned,” Iowa Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, said Thursday.

Reynolds called for those who stormed the Capitol to be prosecuted “to the fullest extent.”

She did not answer a question posed in a virtual meeting with Iowa Statehouse reporters about her support for President Donald Trump, who had encouraged ralliers to march to the Capitol, saying instead it was time to “stop pointing fingers and move forward.”

“That’s not how we resolve our differences ... and absolutely is not who we are as Americans,” Reynolds said. “This has been a very difficult year, but we all have a role in dialing down the rhetoric to have a constructive conversation on how we can address some of these concerns while we work together to move forward.”

At the same time, lawmakers said they believe security at the Iowa Capitol is sufficient to prevent mob violence.

That has been tested in the past when large crowds came to the Capitol to protest changes in collective bargaining, abortion and gun laws and in the wake of George Floyd’s death in police custody in May.

“We’ve been saying for the last eight months (that) with any sort of protests going on around the country, you should have the right to, obviously, express your opinions in a non-violent way, a nonthreatening way,” said Iowa House Speaker Pat Grassley, R-New Hartford.

Grassley explained that to enter the state Capitol, people — other than lawmakers and Capitol employees — must pass through security gates staffed by guards. Iowa State Patrol troopers also are present.

“I think that between the security that we have in the Capitol, and the State Patrol as well, I think that we’re well-equipped,” he said.

Referring to the crowds of social justice advocates who came to the Capitol when lawmakers returned in June to complete their session that was suspended in March due to COVID-19, Grassley said that “kind of prepared us ... some of the steps that may need to happen.”

Whitver said he doubted Iowa would see the scale of violence that occurred in Washington or that it will trigger incidents similar to the threats militias made to Michigan’s governor.

“That’s not how we operate as Iowans,” he said. “Iowans are respectful. We’ve had protests for the last four years at the Capitol. We’ve had some very active debates. Some very lively debates. Some lively protests. We’ve had riots outside the Capitol. We have beefed-up security over the last few years. So I am not concerned about that.”

Grassley and Whitver made their comments during taping of “Iowa Press,” which will be aired on Iowa PBS at 7:30 p.m. Friday and noon Sunday, 8:30 a.m. Saturday and online at iowapbs.org.

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.