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OU President Joseph Harroz, state leaders respond to 'unlawful' Capitol siege

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Joseph Harroz

OU President Joseph Harroz during the OU Board of Regents meeting May 9, 2020.

OU President Joseph Harroz tweeted in response to riots at the U.S. Capitol as Congress gathered to certify electoral college votes cementing Joe Biden’s presidential election victory.

Harroz tweeted around 5 p.m. — roughly three hours after Vice President Mike Pence was rushed out of the Capitol as a pro-Donald Trump riot entered the building — decrying the breach and interruption of the certification process.

“Peaceful transitions of political power are the bedrock of our democracy — they are not a question of political party, but of patriotism and they underpin the American way of life,” Harroz wrote. “At our great university, we teach the fundamental importance of the rule of law, civil discourse, free speech, and civic engagement. What we have witnessed today is antithetical to who we are as a people and threatens our republic. We must call such acts for what they are — lawless and destructive to our nation.”

The count of votes was disrupted during a speech given by Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, when an aide informed the senator rioters had entered the Capitol. Later, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) was seen with officers speaking to rioters attempting to enter the chambers by breaking through a barricaded door. Mullin later claimed the rioters were not Trump supporters because the behavior did not match what was seen at Trump rallies.

Other Norman leaders, including Oklahoma House of Representatives Minority Leader Rep. Emily Virgin (D-Norman) and Norman Mayor Breea Clark addressed the hours-long siege. In her own tweet, Clark sharply rebuked the Oklahoma congressmembers who stated they would object to certification of the Electoral College vote — Lankford, Mullin Stephanie Bice (OK-5), Tom Cole (OK-4), and Kevin Hern (OK-3) — challenging the delegation to do so “after today’s historic act of domestic terrorism.”

Governor Kevin Stitt was among state leaders who denounced the violence at the Capitol, with Inhofe — who did not vote against the certification of votes — and Lankford also issuing brief statements.

While the riot in Washington spiraled into violence which has so far resulted in one death and several injuries, another pro-Trump demonstration at the Oklahoma capitol building roughly 30 minutes from the Norman campus was held without violence, largely dispersing after rain began to fall.

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