Iowa public safety aide says riot at Capitol ‘had to happen’

As Congress moves towards impeaching President Trump, the FBI warns of armed protests

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — An Iowa Department of Public Safety worker who traveled to Washington, D.C., to support President Donald Trump’s push to overturn the election says she understands the rage that fueled the riot, writing online that it “had to happen.”

Hollie Davidson, an administrative assistant at the Iowa Statewide Interoperable Communications Systems Board, said she participated in two days of “Stop the Steal” rallies but was not among the mob that entered the Capitol. Five people were killed during the rampage, which delayed Congress’ certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the November election.

Reached at her state office phone, Davidson said Tuesday that she witnessed “exactly what happened” outside the building and that the media unfairly blamed pro-Trump protesters for the violence.

“Unfortunately, a few bad people got mixed in there, whether they be antifa or someone else,” she said. Federal officials have said there is no evidence that the far-left-leaning militant group was a catalyst.

Davidson wrote on Facebook that the insurrection was necessary so Trump supporters could spread their message. She said they reached a “breaking point.”

“As humans, you can only take so much before something blows up and that is exactly what happened today. This is OUR country and we will be SILENT NO MORE!!!” she wrote. “Unfortunately, something like what went down at the Capitol today had to happen in order for us to have our voices heard finally.”

Public safety department spokeswoman Debra McClung didn’t return messages seeking comment. The board for which Davidson works is responsible for the digital communications network that connects public safety agencies, first responders and other government agencies. She earns a salary of about $55,000 annually.

Board chairman Dave Ness, a Des Moines police captain, declined comment, saying he had a “limited role.”

Davidson, an activist with a group of Iowa women supporting Trump who identifies herself as a state employee on her Facebook page, complained that she has faced harassment over the post. She said she did not condone the killings and that it made her nauseous to see critics “calling us a mob and telling us that we are terrorists.”

“We were there. We know exactly what happened. That’s the most frustrating part,” she said.

Davidson asserted Tuesday that no violence erupted during any of the Trump rallies she has organized in Iowa. But she has been raising money for 25-year-old Michael McKinney, who is charged with attempted murder in the shooting of a 15-year-old girl at a pro-Trump gathering in Des Moines on Dec. 7.

Davidson has repeatedly argued that the case, which was investigated by the department for which she works, has been handled unfairly.

Court documents show McKinney, a Trump enthusiast, fired from close range on a car carrying four teenage girls who had been arguing with rally participants. A passenger suffered injuries but survived the shooting.

Supporters say McKinney, who remains jailed, shot in self-defense after the girls’ car reversed and backed into someone’s truck.

“He is one of our true American Patriots who was defending himself and many other Patriots around him that day,” Davidson wrote recently on Facebook. “What he is being charged with is unfair and unjust and he does not deserve to have his life ruined.”

Davidson hung up when asked about that case.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.