We don’t know if newly elected West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans, R-Wayne, will be criminally charged for his involvement in the riot that took place in Washington D.C. after President Trump again lied about winning the election and stirred his supporters to violence.
The FBI and other agencies are reviewing the shameful act of domestic terrorism that attempted to interrupt certifying the Electoral College vote. That vote eventually went ahead, solidifying Joe Biden as the next president of the United States. Sorting out who should be charged with what will take some time, and should be allowed to run its proper course.
What we do know is that Evans documented — throughout the day on social media — that he and other West Virginians were making the trip to D.C. to rally for the outgoing president’s lost cause. We know he livestreamed himself and others breaking into Congress in one of the most disturbing scenes on American soil in decades, perhaps only surpassed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. We know someone shouted “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!” on that livestream.
Evans later scrubbed his social media accounts, backpedaling as he made his way home to West Virginia and claiming to be an “independent journalist.” But his social media posts had already been preserved by multiple people, and those videos do not depict anything journalistic. Given that one rioter wrote “Murder the media” on a door in the Capitol building, it’s a hard take to support.
West Virginia House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, condemned Evans’ behavior while implying that more information is needed to determine appropriate action, if any. House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha (who also is president of HD Media LLC, which owns the Gazette-Mail) also condemned Evans’ actions in a statement, saying the newly minted delegate should be suspended and barred from the state Capitol until an investigation is complete.
By all means, conduct an investigation. But Evans clearly went with a mob through police and security at the nation’s Capitol with, at best, the intention of forcibly thwarting the count of electoral votes. Four people were killed in the disgraceful event.
Evans should resign, regardless of any criminal charges. If he won’t, Hanshaw should force the issue. We’ve seen members of the GOP in the House of Delegates offer up the worst representation of West Virginia on the national stage in recent years.
The state made global headlines when Mercer County Republican Eric Porterfield — no longer in office — spewed homophobic remarks and intimated that he would drown his children if they were gay.
Delegate John Mandt, R-Cabell, went on social media jags attacking Muslims and minorities. Nothing was ever really done. A plethora of statements decrying such behavior is all that really ever happens. Mandt resigned after several incidents, but he was reelected in the fall. Repercussions have been lean.
What Evans did is so far past any line set before that he has to go. Participating in a rush on the seat of our nation’s government cannot be normalized by a slap on the wrist. If he and the state GOP don’t recognize that, then what happened on Wednesday is just the beginning, and it could be a harbinger of violence coming to West Virginia’s Capitol one day.