INDIANAPOLIS — More than 100 Hoosiers traveled together Wednesday to Washington D.C. as Congress met to certify the election results.
Mary Beth Clauss, one of the organizers of the caravan, says they began organizing the event after hearing from fellow Hoosiers who felt like their voices weren't being heard and didn't want to make the trip alone.
When they arrived in Washington, they met with Indiana Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun outside of the senate office buildings and weren't able to hear President Donald Trump speak.
After the meetings, they walked to the U.S. Capitol building near the U.S. Supreme Court where more people arrived from the White House. Clauss said people were chanting, but things were peaceful.
"We heard that the front side, facing the National Mall, that they had breached it, that they had gotten into the building," Clauss said.
She said they saw police leave the area, assuming they went to the front of the building, but no one, from what they could see, was able to get into the capital from the backside.
"The crowd started coming around and were walking up the driveway and actually the police opened, it appeared the police opened, they had police on their jackets so I'm assuming they were police, they opened the metal barricades and let the crowd into the parking lot area," Clauss said.
People were walking around the parking lot area, waving their flags, and were peaceful. Then some people in the crowd starting climbing up the steps. From where Clauss was, she said the crowd near her remained peaceful.
"It was peaceful," Clauss said. "I never feared for my safety. We sang the National Anthem, said the Pledge of Allegiance, sang God Bless America, I mean it was very patriotic, very peaceful. Everyone was very loving, and kind and polite, and courteous."
A woman was fatally shot inside the building by a police officer and three others died due to medical emergencies.
Larry Roseberry, who also attended the demonstration, said he heard flashbangs and saw pepper spray being used, but the people near him were peaceful. He said some people were concerned because they didn't know what was going on inside the building.
"People are really frustrated with, you know, not being heard by the politicians," David Theile said. "I think that really put fuel with the fire with this. I don't think that crowd really wanted to do that. But when you feel like your legal system is failing you and their politicians aren't hearing you, I think people get pushed off to the brink and snap."
Demonstrators who stormed the building left behind a trail of destruction, including broken doors, toppled furniture, shattered glass, and graffiti.
Theile said he also didn't see anyone causing destruction from where he was.
"A lot of people look to Trump for support, look to him for hope," Roseberry said. "We had a voice, we weren't heard, they took the hope away and for a lot of people, it's hard knowing what's going to happen."
Theile and Clauss pointed out they saw people of different races, nationalities, and religions there.
While WRTV was talking with them, Trump posted a video on Twitter after his account was suspended amid the demonstrations. Together, we watched the video.
"Well obviously it's really disappointing because you always want to hold out hope for even a miracle," Clauss said. "I think there's a lot of mistrust so it's going to be difficult to unite."
She said she understands the calls for unity, but it will be difficult after what happened the last four years.
"No matter what happens here, what keeps our spirits up that no matter how difficult life becomes, you know, salvation is where we all want to have, and is given to us if you're a believer," Theile said.
Theile said change is going to occur at the grassroots level.
"I hope with our God, absolutely anything is possible and the change and the future is going to happen at the grassroots level," he said. "We can't count on our politicians to do it."
Politicians need to get back to the basics, Roseberry said.
"The government is there to serve us," he said. "We put people in office to serve us, and by serving us, they can't take their own agendas, run with it, leave us in the dark, hurt us on some levels."
Both Roseberry and Clauss said change needs to start at the local level.
"Take action," Clauss said. "Call your elected officials, write them, go to the statehouse and wave your flags or your signs, contact the school board members, or better yet, run for school board, run for city councilperson, because we need good people in those positions. We just need people to get involved and take ownership of their country."