While President Joe Biden was sworn into office Wednesday in the nation's capital, supporters of both Biden and outgoing President Donald Trump demonstrated at the Missouri State Capitol.
A group promoting non-violence held a silent vigil in front of the post office in downtown Jefferson City to implore people to "love one another regardless of political persuasion, race and religion."
The half-hour "Vigil for Democracy, Truth and Love," was sponsored by the Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation, based in Columbia. Spokesman Jeff Stack said the non-partisan gathering was intended to "take a nonviolent stand affirming core principles for a civilized society."
Stack said they recognize the critical need for respectful dialogue but, given the volatility of this particular time, a silent vigil seemed most wise and appropriate. He said the group plans to organize future forums for dialogue among people with various perspectives.
Meanwhile, handful of Trump supporters walked or sat along sidewalks on High Street in front of the Capitol holding Trump signs and carrying American flags.
Among them was Gene Bauer, of Eldon, who said he had been a longtime Democrat and voted for President Barack Obama twice but changed his political affiliation when Trump ran for office. He said he wants to make sure religious freedoms are protected, something he believes will not happen during the Biden administration.
"The most important thing is to have a value system based on God because the minute we lose faith and trust in God we have lost our country," Bauer said. "Democrats are trying to do that now by restricting the number of people going to a church with the COVID-19 restrictions, but they don't have those restrictions at places such as Walmart or bars."
Another Trump supporter, who declined to give his name but said he was from Springfield, said he wanted to show he was against the election process, primarily in Georgia and Pennsylvania, where Trump contested results claiming there had been election fraud that allowed Biden to win.
"I want our senators in Washington to continue to fight for election integrity and continue to work to make people accountable for what happened," the man said. "We need to change this so it won't happen again. Republicans didn't fight hard enough, and I want Sen. (Josh) Hawley to continue to push to do the right thing."
Stack said the Fellowship of Reconciliation believes the election was fair and that Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris won.
"The insinuation by GOP radicals/Trump loyalists has been that votes in Missouri and other red states were tabulated fairly but voting results are suspect in cities in 'battleground' states where the totals went for Biden-Harris — in Philadelphia, Detroit, Milwaukee, Phoenix, Atlanta, etc., where a majority of voters were people of color," Stack said. "The votes of every single individual are equally precious to consider and count, regardless of one's skin color or ZIP code."
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Capitol Police officers patrolled the Capitol grounds during the noon hour.
Jefferson City Police Department spokesman Lt. David Williams said the department had no extra personnel on duty and did not receive any calls from Capitol Police requesting aid.
Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman Mike O'Connell said they made no changes to security protocols put in place last week for the proceedings at Gov. Mike Parson's inauguration. The south side drive around the Capitol has yet to be opened since construction crews working on the restoration of the building left around New Year's. O'Connell said there has been no date given on when the drive will re-open to traffic.