Wednesday's inauguration of President Joe Biden was always going to be different from traditional ceremonies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the events of January 6 -- just two weeks prior, when thousands of Trump supporters converged on the National Mall for a rally which culminated in the violent breach of the United States Capitol -- resulted in a near-total lockdown of the area where President Biden was sworn in as the United States' 46th Commander In Chief.
As of press time, a total of three Kentuckians are among those facing federal charges in connection to the riot. But one local group of Trump supporters made the trip never foreseeing how the day would turn out.
Gary Haist, Senior Pastor of Somerset Christian Fellowship, told the Commonwealth Journal that he was extremely frustrated with what he saw as irregularities in how seven swing states certified their electoral votes as well as let down that 55 judges would dismiss President Trump's lawsuits on standing without looking at the evidence. Haist believes that "media and big tech" ran interference in order to help Biden win the 2020 election.
"…I felt I had to let my voice be heard in Washington, DC to Stop the Steal," Haist said, "or we may never have a fair election again!"
Pastor Haist continued that the group's experience at the rally was "incredibly peaceful" with them meeting fellow supporters from states including Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and California. He also described large contingent of Chinese Trump supporters who had banners, signs, and literature warning of the Chinese Communist Party.
"Many were older, mostly Christian, Trump supporters…," Haist said of those attending. "Occasionally we saw a possible Antifa walking around with a vest on or a helmet…There was no pushing or shoving in a sea of humanity and all seemed to be respectful of those in wheelchairs."
After the president finished speaking, Haist's group walked toward the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol to take some pictures and pray -- unaware of any problems. He recalled hearing two blasts, at which another in the group -- Chad Ray -- asked if it could be cannons.
"Later we found out after we left that was the handgun fired," he said.
According to the pastor, they were on their way back to the Lincoln Memorial for more pictures when began to get calls from friends and relatives that the Capitol had been breached and a woman had been shot.
"People were standing around the Capitol by the pool," Pastor Haist said, adding they heard sirens only at the end. "[I]t was far enough from the steps that we could see people but did not know that it was breached or that violence broke out."
At that point, the group walked to the nearest station to leave by train.
Pastor Haist went on to say that he's extremely upset that "msm [main stream media] has consistently lied and portrayed the millions of Trump supporters as white supremacists." Rather than any major network, he noted only seeing one NTD (New Tang Dynasty Television) crew livestreaming via YouTube until they were cut off.
"They didn't want to show [hundreds] of thousands of law abiding citizens peacefully protest." Haist said. "They didn't want pictures and sound bites of random prayer for our country breaking out, singing, and even cheers to 'make America great again,' or 'God bless the USA! They just crafted their narrative to damage Trump and his supporters and take the focus off a fraudulent election and a populist movement that is sick of this kind of corruption! Then they showed selected video footage of planned criminal behavior that doesn't represent us at all over and over while they badmouthed all of us and planned their anti-conservative purge. I love this country that God has blessed and I and many patriots don't want to see it go the way of Venezuela to socialism and corruption with stolen elections, Dominion equipment and all."
Pastor Haist acknowledged Biden's inauguration, saying he'd "move on after the Democrats take over but will probably be more politically active and unafraid to point out the failed policies and corruption in their party. Their tyrannical threats only motivate me more."