Virginia delegate defends mob march, faces calls for ouster

FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Loudoun County’s top elected official is calling for the removal of a Virginia state delegate who participated in the mob march on the U.S. Capitol and then attacked his critics for failing to focus on “the needs of the colored community.”

Del. Dave LaRock represents western Loudoun County and is the only Republican remaining in northern Virginia’s House of Delegates delegation. He describes himself as a “constitutional conservative.”

Calls for his resignation began after he participated in the Jan. 6 rally of President Donald Trump’s supporters that stormed the Capitol. In a statement, LaRock condemned those who forced their way into the Capitol but said the “massive crowds in DC were law-abiding, patriotic, mom and pop, young adults pushing baby carriages. They were peaceful protesters who shared distrust in the system that asserts that Joe Biden won, an opinion shared a growing number of members of Congress.”

He said the event was “for the most part, an outstanding exercise of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

He blamed the violence on “paid provocateurs” and “a small element who likely infiltrated this patriotic group” despite all evidence to the contrary that those who breached the Capitol were indeed Trump supporters.

LaRock’s actions prompted Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall and Supervisor Juli Briskman to say they will introduce a resolution calling for LaRock’s resignation.

In an interview, Randall said she believes the Legislature should vote to expel him.

“I am concerned whenever an elected leader spreads misinformation,” Randall said.

She said LaRock’s participation in the march, regardless of whether he actually breached the Capitol, feeds the false narrative that the presidential election was stolen.

“There was not a steal of the election,” she said.

The Democratic Committees of Loudon, Clarke and Winchester-Frederick counties — which his district covers — also called for LaRock’s immediate resignation in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

LaRock responded to the calls for his ouster, which were joined by Loudoun County NAACP chapter President Michelle Thomas, with another statement Tuesday attacking his critics.

“NOT GONNA HAPPEN, LADIES!” LaRock said. “Rather than focusing on the business of Loudoun County and the needs of the colored community, they are wasting their time and taxpayer resources to attack me.”

Randall is African American.

In a phone interview Wednesday, LaRock said he chose the word “colored” deliberately because he saw it as a specific response to the NAACP, which stands for National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“They haven’t changed their name to National Association for the Advancement of People of Color,” he said. “If my saying that makes me guilty of saying something racist, call me old-fashioned, but nobody sent me the memo. No slight intended.”

More broadly, he said he stands by his impression that paid provocateurs instigated the breach of the Capitol, though he said he’s willing to reconsider his opinion if more facts emerge. Asked fundamentally who was at fault for the riot, he said primary blame belongs to the individuals involved and secondary blame goes to Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her oversight role of unprepared Capitol Police.

A petition calling for the expulsion of LaRock — as well as GOP state Sen. Amanda Chase, who was a speaker at the Jan. 6 mob march — has received more than 2,800 signatures.

Expelling LaRock would require a two-thirds vote in the House of Delegates. Although Democrats hold a majority, a successful expulsion vote would require support of roughly a dozen Republicans as well.

House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn and a spokeswoman for House Democrats did not return calls and emails seeking comment. But on Wednesday, the first day of the 2021 General Assembly session, Filler-Corn stripped LaRock and two other GOP delegates — Mark Cole and Ronnie Campbell — who had urged Vice President Mike Pence to nullify Virginia’s certified election results of one committee assignment each. Other committee assignments held by the three remained intact.

LaRock, for his part, said he’s not aware of any effort to expel him and that he expects to continue to represent the people of his district, and that people who feel the same way he does deserve to have their voices heard.

“It is very frustrating for people to feel their voice is being ignored or marginalized,” he said.

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Associated Press writer Alan Suderman contributed to this report from Richmond.

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