SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as $1 for 3 months
SUBSCRIBE NOW
As low as $1 for 3 months

Trump supporters, Proud Boys protest in front of Old Florida Capitol

Tori Lynn Schneider
Tallahassee Democrat
Wayne Graddick kneels in prayer in front of the Old Capitol during the Stop the Steal protest in Tallahassee Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

A group of between 100 and 150 supporters of President Donald Trump rallied outside the Florida Capitol Wednesday to join in the "Stop the Steal" protest which took place at state Capitols across the country and in Washington, D.C. 

While the protest in Tallahassee was tame and did not draw any counter-protesters before 2 p.m., the U.S. Capitol was locked down after Trump supporters swarmed the building Wednesday afternoon and violent confrontations occurred. 

Florida U.S. Rep Al Lawson in lockdown:Trump needs to be immediately removed as president

In Washington:Pro-Trump protesters breach Capitol, forcing lockdown; one person shot; Pence evacuated, Senate chamber cleared out

In opposition to the results of the 2020 presidential election, the Tallahassee group joined together in protest and prayer in front of the Old Capitol beginning as early as 8 a.m.

By the afternoon, a group had broken off and gathered together in prayer, led by Pam Olsen, who has been praying at the Capitol for the past 27 years. 

Donning a red "Make America Great Again" hat as he says he does every day, one Trump supporter, Wayne Graddick, led the group in singing "God Bless America."

"I love this country, I love my God, my savior, and for the first time I came to a rally because we're at a precipice that we cannot go over as a country," Graddick said. 

The Tallahasseean, who has been a supporter of Donald Trump since before he ran for president, said Wednesday was the first time he attended a rally.

He was encouraged to attend the rally by his friend, Charles Willingham. The friends both believe the election was stolen from Donald Trump, something the president has reiterated for weeks without evidence.

"Anybody with any common sense knows it was in their heart," Graddick said. "Can I prove it? No. But deep down, I know it was.

"There's no way a person like (Joe Biden), with a history like his, could win a legitimate, fair election against a man like Donald Trump," the 68-year-old retiree said. 

Holding up the symbol for white supremacy, a woman poses for a photo with members of the Proud Boys during the Stop the Steal protest at the Florida Capitol Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.

Diane Atkins, who traveled from Panama City to take part in the Tallahassee protest, said pro-Trump protesters in Washington have “the right to do what’s being done,” though she added she doesn’t condone any violence.

“Right now, it’s to a boiling point,” she said. “And the people started walking. How do you stop a flood?”

Roughly 35 members of the Proud Boys joined the rally around 2 p.m., posing for a photo on the steps of the Old Capitol while holding up flags and making the sign for white supremacy before joining in the crowd in protest along North Monroe Street. 

Later in the day, a small number of counter-protesters arrived. Two women who wished not to be identified held signs on the southeast corner of Monroe Street and Apalachee Parkway.

Megan Randell, a Florida State University student, took a different approach to her counter-protest by standing with the crowd of Trump supporters while holding a rainbow flag and playing the song "FDT by YG and Nipsey Hussle" on a speaker.

Contact Tori Lynn Schneider at tschneider@tallahassee.com or on Twitter @photoriphy. Check out her photos on Instagram @phototori_. 

Never miss a story:  Subscribe to the Tallahassee Democrat using the link at the top of the page.