HILLSDALE, Mich. — The Hillsdale County Republican Party is planning a fundraising event Thursday to mark the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol building.
Hillsdale County Republican Party Secretary Jon Smith said they typically host a business spotlight dinner on first Thursday of every month.
“It just so happens that this first Thursday of January is on Jan. 6, and it so happens last year we organized 104 people down to go to D.C. with two tour buses from Hillsdale and how ironic is that we got an anniversary here," he said.
A crowd of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6, 2021, intending to disrupt certification of President Joe Biden's victory in the November election. At least six people died in connection with the day's events. A police officer suffered a stroke in the line of duty, a rioter was shot at killed by police and four officers took their own lives in the riot's aftermath.
The Hillsdale Republicans plan to have guests to talk about their experiences that day.
“We’re going to have people come in and guest speak and talk about their experience on Jan. 6 so it won’t be just like someone like myself talking," Smith said, "because my membership has heard me over and over again. It’s kind of redundant.
"I got this gentleman that’s from Wayne County. He was actually charged with a crime and pleaded guilty to it," Smith said. "He’s going to be on Zoom telling us his experience, whether good, bad or indifferent. We want to know what happened, because I didn’t see it happen. I want to see what happened to him and what his experience was."
The party's Facebook page lists the gathering at Sozo Church in Hillsdale as a fundraising event. It costs $10 to attend, with food and beverages provided.
“That pays for the venue and it also pays for the food," Smith said. "If I didn’t put that people are like, 'Why am I paying $10?' So, it’s not really necessary fundraising to raise a bunch of money off this of insurrection. It’s actually our party has to operate in that you need money to operate it.”
The Hillsdale County Democrats said in a written statement that they were "saddened that the Hillsdale County Republicans are celebrating an event whose goal it was to interfere with the democratic process and to undermine the outcome of an election.
"Many people were injured and some lost their lives, this should never be a cause for celebration, no matter your political convictions or affiliation," the statement said.
But Smith said it's not so different from other events.
“You know, we have Pearl Harbor anniversary that we shed a light on that. That’s a big nasty event," he said. "This idea that we’re going to emphasize..this goes back to what I was saying about honesty. Let’s be honest about what we’re doing here and what we’re saying."
Asked whether he believed the riot was an insurrection, Smith said "That’s a tough question.
"Do I think people went inside that building illegally? Yes," he said. "Do I think there was an insurrection? Absolutely not. Absolutely not.”
Smith said he expects anywhere from 70 to 110 people to be at the event.
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