The Slatest

GOP Sen. Ron Johnson: I Might Have Felt Unsafe if BLM, Antifa Had Stormed Capitol

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) asks questions during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs/Rules and Administration hearing to examine the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol on Capitol Hill on March 3, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Ron Johnson asks questions during a Senate hearing on the Jan. 6 Capitol attack on March 3. Greg Nash/Getty Images

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson is under fire after he said during an interview that he might have felt threatened in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot if Black Lives Matter protesters and members of Antifa had been the ones storming the Capitol. “Even though those thousands of people that were marching to the Capitol were trying to pressure people like me to vote the way they wanted me to vote, I knew those were people that love this country, that truly respect law enforcement, would never do anything to break the law, and so I wasn’t concerned,” Johnson said during an interview on the radio talk show “The Joe Pags Show.” Johnson was talking about recent comments in which he downplayed the danger posed by the riot and had said he didn’t “really felt threatened” that day.

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Johnson then went on to say something that he seemed to know would be controversial. “Now, had the tables been turned—Joe, this could get me in trouble—had the tables been turned, and President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” the Wisconsin senator said. The talk show host, Joe “Pags” Pagliarulo, seemed a bit surprised by what he heard but ultimately agreed with Johnson. “Wow, that’s a big statement,” he said. “But it’s a true statement.” Neither of them seem to remember the videos showing pro-Trump rioters attacking police officers. At least five people died from the riot, including one police officer. Two other police officers later died by suicide and more than 100 other law enforcement officers were injured.

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Some were quick to call Johnson’s statements racist. Rep. Mark Pocan from Wisconsin said the comments were “seriously embarrassing to our state,” adding that “we’ve moved from just plain old fringe, extremist rants to fringe extremist and racist rants.” Wisconsin State Sen. LaTonya Johnson agreed. “What, white people love this country and Black people don’t? That’s exactly what he’s saying,” Johnson said. “For him to say something as racist as that—it’s ridiculous.” Rep. Ted Lieu of California also blasted Johnson, pointing out on Twitter that “the mob murdered a police officer and injured 140 other officers.”

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Johnson stood by his words. “Out of 7,750 protests last summer associated with BLM and Antifa, 570 turned into violent riots that killed 25 people and caused $1- $2 billion of property damage. That’s why I would have been more concerned,” Johnson said in a statement.

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