Vigils provide opposing views of Capitol riot

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The first anniversary of the Jan. 6 incursion into the U.S. Capitol as Congress met to count electoral votes cast into high relief a growing division among Americans. That division was just as apparent in St. Augustine as elsewhere in the nation.

A candlelight vigil on the west lawn of the Castillo de San Marcos, organized by Blue Guardians of Democracy, attracted several dozen people — including a small group of dissenters. The gist of the gathering was that the riot at the Capitol was an assault on democracy and that those who took part were insurrectionists.

Speaking at the vigil were representatives of the St. Augustine Black Caucus, the National Organization for Women Jacksonville, Blue Wave of St. Johns County and others.

League of Women Voters of Jacksonville President Lanelle Phillmon described three pieces of legislation related to voters’ rights that vigil organizers encouraged attendees to support.

These were the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.

Later, in the Plaza de la Constitucion, another group gathered for another candlelight vigil, this one in support of those who pieced the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Signs at this rally referred to those arrested after the riot as political prisoners. It was one of several such gatherings across the nation organized by Look Ahead America. The opening speaker was Pastor Kevin Tuck.

On Jan. 6, 2021, thousands of supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the Capitol to disrupt the joint session of Congress, which was assembled to formalize the victory of President-elect Joe Biden.

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