'An assault on our democracy': Darien town leaders, police decry Capitol violence

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

DARIEN — “There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.” — Abraham Lincoln, Jan. 27, 1838.

That quote was used by Darien Republican Town Committee chairman Alexander Davidson in response to the attacks on the nation’s Capitol last week.

As the fallout from the riots at the Capitol building continue — including arrests, calls for the impeachment for President Donald Trump, and reactions around the world — Darien’s leaders condemned those responsible. Four individuals lost their lives as well as U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died Jan. 7 of injuries sustained during the riot at the Capitol.

First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she “unequivocally denounce the violent events in the U.S. Capitol ... and those who were responsible for inciting that violence.”

“Never in my lifetime did I think I would watch, real-time, an attack on our nation’s capital. Violence cannot be tolerated and all who committed these violent crimes must prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Stevenson said. “... Clearly, there are disenfranchised people in the United States who have deep concerns. Peaceful, bipartisan conversations must occur immediately in order to move beyond the polarization that is damaging our country.”

She added that she remains hopeful that President-elect Joe Biden can mediate this critical dialogue and will make good on his promise for government to work for all people.

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David Bayne, chairman of Darien’s Democratic Town Committee, said he “never thought I would see the day when the United States Capitol would be sacked.”

“That it was overrun and vandalized by a group of Americans who call themselves ‘patriots’ following the lead of a president who styles himself a ‘law and order,’” he said.

Bayne added that, in addition to the many crimes committed, it is “appalling that four lives were lost and that more than 50 officers were injured.”

“President Trump cannot escape the blame for the damage he has caused to America by his senseless and selfish conduct on Wednesday and I consider him to be a Constitutional criminal who is not fit for office now or in the future,” Bayne said.

According to its chairman, Alexander Davidson, the “Darien Republican Town Committee stands firmly against the violence and unrest in our nation’s capital yesterday.”

In lockdown Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Jim Himes and Rosa DeLauro huddled in a conference room with lawmakers in the bowels of the U.S. Capitol. They didn’t know whether they were safe from a mob of protesters who had stormed the building, angry that Congress was about to seal the results of the 2020 presidential election.

“Today was a massive security breach,” Himes said in an interview from the locked room on Wednesday. “I’ve always assumed there was a button somewhere that they could press and the Capitol would be kind of sealed off. Well I guess that’s not true.”

State Rep. Matt Blumenthal had a unique perspective on Wednesday’s events as his father, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn, was locked inside the Senate chamber, along with 200 senators, staff and press.

At one point Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., looked at her phone and yelled to the group “Shots fired.” D.C. Police later confirmed a woman was shot in the Capitol.

After 15 tense minutes, police ordered an evacuation of the Senate chamber and rushed senators, staff and media to a secure location.

“It was pretty disconcerting and dismaying,” Richard Blumenthal said. “The potential for physical violence was very real. We were warned specifically to move quickly without panic.”

Matt Blumenthal, who represents part of Darien and Stamford, said on Wednesday that, “We witnessed a violent and terroristic insurrection against the sacred temple of our democracy, incited by the president of the United States and abetted by the lies of his political allies.”

“It is a day which will live in infamy. All who played a role in it are an absolute disgrace to our country and its values. They must be held fully accountable for their actions,” Blumenthal said.

State Rep. Terrie Wood, who represents part of Darien and Norwalk/Rowayton, said Trump lost the election and “he must stand in support of certifying the election results.”

“His false statements of stolen election have given power to those who would cause chaos and unrest in our nation. He needs to do the right thing for our country and support the peaceful and lawful transition of power to President-elect Biden,” Wood said.

On behalf of the Action Network of Darien Democrats, former First Selectman Evonne Klein said the Wednesday attack was “an assault on our democracy led by an outgoing president.”

“During these past four years, we learned that leadership and government matter in our lives. Looking ahead, it’s clear we need leaders at all levels of government who will defend democracy in real time, in the moment and understand that their role is greater than themselves,” Klein said.

Darien Police Chief Donald Anderson said “law enforcement and ensuring public safety has always has had some level of ‘tension’ associated with it.”

Anderson said when actions and behavior exceeds the boundaries of lawful dissent, we see the unlawful results, “just as we did last Wednesday.”

“I, unfortunately, have been at dozens of law enforcement funerals in my career; they are always heart-wrenching and often soul-shaking,” Anderson said.

In most cases, he said, the officer involved was simply trying his or her best to do the job and to ensure safety and security for the public.

“The unexpected or unnecessary loss of life of any human being is both tragic and disheartening. And to me, that certainly includes the lives of those who often are at odds with law enforcement,” Anderson said.

He noted that social unrest and large scale protests can quickly spiral out of control.

“Could a ‘riot’ happen here in Connecticut? It could certainly happen in any city, town or burg across our country. It is imperative that lines of communications and conversation remain free flowing so that manageable differences can be properly addressed, and I think we do that fairly well,” the chief said.

Despite that, Anderson said Darien police train and prepare for situations “we truly hope will never occur.”

“As always, we will always respond in reasonable and appropriate fashion if that is what is required. Truly reasonable people simply have to concede that it is always better to talk it out rather than duke it out. In that belief, I am unwavering,” he said.