‘It’s a tragedy’: Clark County leaders react to D.C. riot, Springfield clergy group plans prayer meeting

Leaders in Clark County are speaking out against the actions of pro-Trump rioters at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

As local leaders speak out, a Springfield clergy group is holding an online Zoom prayer meeting on Friday in an effort to bring the community together.

Americans watched in disbelief on Wednesday as President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol, prompting a lockdown and disrupting Congress as they met to vote to approve the Electoral College’s vote.

Four people died following the protests, including a woman who was shot and killed inside the Capitol, according to the Associated Press. The other three died after suffering medical emergencies.

Rep. Kyle Koehler, R-Springfield, called what happened in Washington D.C. “wrong.”

“No matter who was responsible. It was wrong,” Koehler said. “What happened (Wednesday) was illegal and wrong and it should have never happened. No matter who was responsible.”

Koehler said he believes it’s “going to take a lot of time,” before the confidence in the government can be restored. Until then, he said he’s not sure what the nation’s next steps should be.

“I think we have to take some time where we realize words mean something, that our actions mean something. Our actions affect other people,” Koehler said. “It’s going to take time for us all to come together and talk about it and work it out.”

Springfield’s Mayor is calling for strong actions in the meantime.

“I was just listening to MSNBC and someone suggested (Trump) go to the airport, fly to Flordia and stay there. That sounds good to me,” Mayor Warren Copeland said. “Clearly he cannot handle the fact that he lost the election and he’s trying to figure out some way to win the election when he lost it. He can’t change it and he can’t, for some reason, find a reason to walk away. So maybe someone can help him figure it out.”

Copeland called the riots “a tragedy,” and “a sad thing for the United States.”

“I think it was a disaster. I think all of us assumed that Trump would never go this far but he encouraged people to go do what they went and did,” Copeland said.

Ross McGregor, the president of the Springfield manufacturing company Pentaflex, said that stability is important for business growth. He said what happened on Wednesday in the nation’s capital can have an effect.

“It has a chilling effect on the willingness to invest in the capital that is needed to grow our business. Especially if investors think we are living in a country that is unstable or that officials are not promoting an environment of peace and stability,” said McGregor, who is a former Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives.

He said he felt outraged, disgusted and disappointed following Wednesday’s riot. McGregor said foreign investment is involved in several manufacturing operations in Clark County.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

“The fact that we have legislators, we have members of Congress, some of whom I used to serve with at the Ohio State House, who have openly promoted and fanned the flames of this ridiculous notion that the election was rigged and actively participated or willing to participate, I consider them to be complaisant in (Wednesday’s) tragic activities,” McGregor said.

In a statement, President of the Board of Clark County Commissioners Melanie Flax Wilt said Wednesday’s events left her feeling “discouraged and defeated.”

“I’m disappointed that they’ve chosen to desecrate the hub of our government. I’m grieved that they threatened our elected representatives. I’m disgusted that it’s become acceptable in some circles to throw a mass temper tantrum when we don’t get our way,” the statement said. “At the same time, I’m proud of our Vice President for standing with the Constitution, as he swore to do. That was a courageous act.”

Flax Wilt’s statement went on to say the United States, “remains the greatest country in the world, but we will struggle to keep it that way if we continue to allow our government to be manipulated by extremists.”

“God bless America. We need Him today and always,” the statement said.

A Springfield clergy group, known as Simunye, will lead an online Zoom prayer meeting at 7 p.m. on Friday via Zoom. The group is inviting all to attend.

Simunye, a Zulu word meaning “We are one,” was having a virtual meeting on Wednesday afternoon when the news broke about the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

The group immediately felt it needed to somehow respond.

“Being local leaders in the Christian community, we felt the right thing to do is turn our attention toward God. Our hope is with Him,” Simunye member Rev. Eli Williams said. “We invited the community to pray with us. Prayer is the answer; to turn to God, who is the answer.”

Simunye, which also includes Bobby Hile, Ernest Brown and Sam Bryant, was formed three years ago by local ministries who “desired to see brotherly love, peace and unity through the body of Christ,” according to Williams.

The group has previously held events meant to bring people of the community together, including a prayer march for racial justice this year, as well as participation in events like CultureFest.

To link to the meeting can be found on the Celebrate Simunye Facebook page.

What: Springfield prayer meeting

Where: Celebrate Simunye Facebook page

When: 7 p.m.

Who: Simunye, a group consisting of Springfield area ministries

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