JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri lawmakers are in their second day of the 2021 legislative session and some are sharing their concerns after seeing the chaos at the U.S. Capitol.
Missouri’s State Capitol is nearly 950 miles away from our nation’s Capital, but some lawmakers in Jefferson City still felt concerned for their safety.
Republican Rep. Barry Hovis from Cape Girardeau County said he saw the news that the protests had gone violent on his phone.
“I was actually on the floor and then one of the other representatives asked for a moment of silence to remember our Capitol,” Hovis said. “It saddened me when I heard that. We are a nation of laws and I don’t want to see that. I know people have opinions on both sides and are upset about the outcome of the previous election we had here, but you know we want to be someone, a country, that shows that even when we have this kind of stuff, we handle it appropriately.”
St. Louis Democratic Sen. Brian Williams said he was worried about his own safety.
“It was a very scary thing, and I had a lot of my family members and relatives and constituents call very concerned about my safety,” Williams said.
Just as President Donald Trump supporters rallied in the nation’s Capitol Wednesday, they also rallied outside of Missouri’s.
Dozens came from around the state and were heard shouting, “Stop the Steal” while waving Trump flags.
“We had folks that were peacefully protesting outside the Capitol, but I was hoping it didn’t lead to what happened in Washington,” Williams said.
Missouri Capitol Police said the rally was peaceful.
“I actually went out and looked at the group that was here,” Hovis said. “They were very friendly, and they were doing their thing and letting us know they were concerned and waving Trump flags and I didn’t see any problem with the group that was here yesterday.”
As things turned violent in Washington, Williams and Hovis said they thought about their own safety here in Missouri.
“It was very concerning and I’m just glad that our law enforcement here handled the building properly and we didn’t have any situations,” Williams said. There’s always a concern anytime you’re working in a space where the public is spending quite a bit of time in the building, you’re always worried about someone potentially being a threat.”
Hovis is a retired law enforcement officer. He said he has never felt unsafe inside the Missouri Capitol.
“You just want to be cautious and guarded,” Hovis said. “I always tell people to be that way because you never know when there’s going to be someone that’s a right-winged crazy person or left-winged crazy person that’s going to try and make a statement. I’ve never been truly scared here at the Capitol and I tell people it’s a safe place to come.”
Williams said leaders and lawmakers need to sit down and focus on getting the country back on track.
“It could have easily been myself or a loved one and I think we need to seriously denounce this type of behavior,” Williams said. “After what happened in Washington, I am very concerned that something could happen here, but I am hopeful and optimistic that Capitol Police can protect and keep all of the members safe.”
Our Missouri Capitol Bureau Chief Emily Manley reached out to Capitol Police and the Department of Public Safety for this story, but they did not want to talk about security on camera.