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South Jersey residents, visitors react to Wednesday’s protest at the U.S. Capitol

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Carl Miller, 61, said the first thing that came to mind when he saw the Capitol being broken into was President Donald Trump.

“Because I know the speech that he gave gave them the ammunition to go do that,” the Atlantic City resident said.

On Wednesday, tens of thousands of Trump supporters protested in Washington, D.C., and stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaking windows, stealing items and clashing with police. Before protesters made their way in, Congress was meeting to certify the Electoral College votes that would solidify President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Among those arrested was a Cape May County resident, Leonard Guthrie.

While tensions have long boiled over between Republicans and Democrats, the majority of people, no matter their political ideology, seemed to believe what happened Wednesday was “a disgrace.”

For 37-year-old Wilberto Pastrana, the first thing he felt was shame for the country when he found out what was happening in the nation’s capital.

“It’s pitiful,” Pastrana said. “Just because people have different opinions doesn’t give us the right to do (that). We’re showing other countries worldwide America is basically falling apart.”

On Thursday morning, Trump released a statement saying the transfer of power would be orderly despite his objection to the results of the election. Pastrana doesn’t believe that for a second.

“He’s a hypocrite,” said Pastrana. “He says something and does a different thing.”

Stephen Thomas, on the other hand, does believe the president. He felt that Wednesday was a culmination of the nationwide unrest that seemingly dominated 2020. But now, Thomas said, Trump knows things have gone too far.

“The whole thing’s crazy,” said Thomas, 70. “It’s getting really ridiculous.

“(The rioters) crossed a really big line. If they’re going to do that, actually climbing the walls and getting into the (Capitol), they are going to do anything they can (for Trump).”

Donna and Pat Mulrane were visiting Cape May on Thursday from Toms River. The couple support Trump but said the president should accept the outcome of the election.

“He didn’t get reelected, and that’s it,” said Donna Mulrane, 72.

“I’m a Trump supporter, but I think he’s kind of pushing the edge now,” added Pat Mulrane, 73. “Accept that you were defeated. I know he felt he was being cheated and everything, but what can you do? I think you’d be better off just accepting it and then coming back and trying to win the election in four years.”

Pat also didn’t agree with Trump’s response to the protests, saying he could have done more.

“It could have been a little bit stronger about the violence, being against it and telling people more than just go home,” he said. “This is not what we should represent. It should have been stronger in that respect.”

Marcia Green, 75, who was visiting Cape May from North Jersey, was walking her dog, Lulu, near the Washington Street Mall in Cape May.

She doesn’t believe all of the people who stormed the Capitol were Trump supporters.

“I was in one of the (Trump) boat parades down here, and the people I met on the boat parade would not have done what happened yesterday,” she said Thursday. “I think it was disgusting. I think it was a horrible thing to happen, especially in the transition period.”

Like the Mulranes, she believed Trump should have responded better.

“I have questions about the election, however, I think that in the scheme of things nothing was going to really change it, but it was apparent,” she said. “Let it go. I think it should have been let go a little while ago.”

Ralph Pazquez, of Newfield, Gloucester County, drove down to Cape May for the day. He described the attack on the Capitol as scary. He said he doesn’t trust Trump.

“They should invoke the 25th Amendment,” Pazquez said. “In 13 days he could put this country in war.”

He’s also worried more unrest may happen in the lead-up to Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, but he thinks authorities will be prepared this time.

With Biden coming into office, Pazquez believes tensions will calm down.

“But it will take a while,” he said.

Contact: 609-272-7239

Twitter @ACPress_CJ


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