In the United States, Capitol rioters want to… get elected there

On January 6, 2021, Derrick Evans participated in the storming of the Capitol in Washington with hundreds of supporters of Donald Trump who did not accept his defeat in the presidential election. Three years later, he is now a candidate to serve in the very institution he besieged.

Like him, there are nearly a dozen of them across the United States seeking an electoral mandate in 2024, after taking part in this event which shook American democracy.

Trump repeated that the election was “stolen” from him

The Capitol, seat of the US Congress, was invaded three years ago by supporters of Donald Trump in an attempt to prevent the certification of the victory of his Democratic opponent Joe Biden. The Republican president then repeated again and again, without evidence, that the election had been “stolen” from him.

That day Derrick Evans, who was then elected to the West Virginia state assembly, filmed himself – helmet on his head – entering the Congress building and chanting “freedom”. Acts which will lead this thirty-year-old to be prosecuted for disturbing public order, and sentenced to three months in prison after pleading guilty.

“Prisoner of January 6 candidate for Congress”

Today a candidate in the Republican primaries in West Virginia, a very conservative mining state in the east of the country, Derrick Evans has made the event a centerpiece of his campaign. Upon arriving at his site, the color is immediately announced: “Prisoner of January 6 candidate for Congress”.

Just like on his fundraising page: “When I serve in Congress, we will reverse the roles and the hunters will become the hunted.” During an interview with AFP, the candidate did not hesitate to describe himself as a “political prisoner”. “The shadow state came to my house and tore me from the arms of my wife and my four children,” says this real estate investor, in reference to the conspiracy theory that there is an underground administration holding decision-making power over American society.

Trump promises amnesty for some imprisoned supporters

Derrick Evans is not the only one to use the assault on the Capitol as a campaign argument. Candidate in the Republican primaries of New Hampshire (northeast) for a post in Congress, Jason Riddle also claims to be “a political prisoner of January 6”, “recently released and with a message of hope”.

Donald Trump himself made it a central element in his attempt to return to the White House, promising in particular to grant amnesty to some of his imprisoned supporters if he returned to power. As a means of reappropriating the event with the aim of denouncing “political persecution”, like that to which he says he is subject with his criminal trials.

“When they discover that I am the elected official arrested for January 6, they thank me”

When Derrick Evans was asked why he chose to highlight his involvement in the assault on the Capitol, he replied: “It’s not me (who chose him). It’s the fake news media ‘”. “I had two options,” he adds, “I could either avoid the subject or embrace it; I chose to embrace it.” His only regret “is believing that we had natural, God-given rights of freedom of speech, and that we still had a constitution in this country.”

“When they discover that I am the elected official arrested for January 6, they shake my hand, thank me, and tell me that they will vote for me,” he assures. In the Republican primaries for West Virginia’s first district on May 14, he will face incumbent Carol Miller, also pro-Trump. Derrick Evans has already received the support of several conservative leaders, including Congressman Bob Good, but also former advisers to Donald Trump such as Roger Stone and General Michael Flynn.

“If Joe Biden is chosen again […] I’m going to teach my family how to live like the Amish.”

One month before the election, he says he expects a close result. And for the November presidential election, Derrick Evans has difficulty considering a defeat for Donald Trump. “If Joe Biden is chosen again and put in the White House, then I will teach my family how to live like the Amish,” away from modern civilization, “and prepare for the collapse of the country” , he asserts.

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