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story.lead_photo.caption A large crowd gathered Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, on the south side of the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City to support President Donald Trump. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

A large crowd gathered Wednesday on the south side of the Missouri State Capitol to support President Donald Trump at the same time a larger rally for Trump was taking place in Washington, D.C.

The "Stop the Steal" rally was an effort by Trump supporters to show that a "proper examination of evidence" of reported voter fraud would show Trump should serve a second term.

Some rallygoers arrived early. Three men rode horses around the downtown area for several hours before the start of the rally carrying Trump and American flags. Before the rally started, one of the riders told the crowd it wasn't the politicians in Washington who would save the country, it was citizens like them.

"It's up to us to keep democracy alive," the man said.

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Former Republican state Rep. Dean Dohrman told the crowd he was proud of how Missouri handled the election. However, he said, he was disappointed in many members of Congress.

"When was the last time socialism worked — never — and that's what a lot of people who don't have any history background or study seem to want," Dohrman said. "As (former British Prime Minister) Margaret Thatcher said, 'If that happens, we'll just all equally be poor.' That's why we have to keep up the fight for democracy. They are organized, and we have to be organized."

Those at the rally praised Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Missouri, for announcing he would object to Biden's certification.

"Hawley was the first senator to stand up and put out there how his constituents feel, and it's our duty to support the guy," said Branson resident Brianna Crotser, one of the main organizers of the Jefferson City event."Some of us have emailed our other senator — Roy Blunt — and we were disappointed that he wasn't going to take a similar stance as Hawley."

Crotser said the rallies in Jefferson City and Washington show it's not just a handful of folks who feel disenfranchised.

"What worries me is the message I get from many that I talk to, and that's after going through this election they don't plan to vote again," Crotser said. "We have to get out and vote, and we have to get out and watch elections and political events if we want to keep our democracy alive."

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During the noon hour, Crotser said, many of those who initially attended the rally left due to the cold temperatures, but those who stayed listened to Trump's speech in Washington via streaming on their phones.

Later, when they heard reports about protesters storming the U.S. Capitol in Washington, many in the crowd cheered. One rallygoer told the group that while he didn't want to see violence, the events in Washington were showing patriotism that needed to be seen in this country — and, with the majority of Missourians being Republican, the man said, if Biden were certified he hoped state lawmakers would move to secede.

The last scheduled speaker of the day was state Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, who told the crowd to stay informed about what is happening in their government.

"Far too often we elect people, we expect them to do the job we elected them to and then we forget about them," Moon said. "You see what happens in (Washington) D.C. Those guys take on a whole new personality and do what they want to do regardless of what you want them to do. When you elect someone, you don't give up one iota of your authority. But you have to keep on top of them and make sure they are doing what you want them to do in governing you."

The rally organizers had permits to be on the Capitol grounds.

Capitol Police Chief Zim Schwartz and her staff conducted walk-arounds of the grounds as well as inside the Capitol on Wednesday afternoon.

"They were respectful of the rules and following those as we have seen other groups do in the past," Schwartz said.

Schrwartz noted a few at the rally came with firearms displayed but said they never entered the Capitol and stayed on the sidewalk along High Street.

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