Fort Walton Beach man recounts U.S. Capitol riots

One man says he went to D.C. for President Trump’s rally and left before the protests turned violent
Published: Jan. 9, 2021 at 11:27 PM CST
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Okaloosa County, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - On Wednesday, Fort Walton Beach local Jason Harwell attended President Trump’s rally in Washington D.C. but he said he wasn’t there when the rally-turned-protest, turned violent.

“You wouldn’t have suspect what happened at the Capitol was about to take place,” said Harwell. “Everybody was still standing in unity with no issues happening, it was beautiful in my eyes.”

Harwell said he was there to simply practice his constitutional right.

“As long as you are peacefully gathered, you should not have to fear for exercising your rights,” said Harwell. “I’ll continue to fight for that and I’ll continue to stand for the individual. So, that’s why I was there.”

He says once the rioting began, he became confused in the moment.

“If there were barricades, it would’ve been very hard to tell what a barricade, barrier, or whatever,” said Harwell. “But, there was basically, almost zero police presence on the ground.”

Even though he never expected the protest to turn into what it did, he came prepared for anything.

“I went prepared with stuff to treat tear gas,” said Harwell. “Going on based off everything that has happened this past year, I wanted to be prepared in order to help.”

Even though Harwell was a part of the original crowd, he wants to make this message clear.

“I do not condone the chaoticness, I do not agree with breaching the Capitol,” said Harwell. “I do not believe by any means the message that needed to be put forth. If anything, it damaged everything.”

Harwell believes President Trump’s role in the riots is up for interpretation. Moving forward, Harwell is concerned with making his voice heard and causing positive change.

Harwell was among 60 other Northwest Florida residents who attended the rally.

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