Calls grow to remove W.Va. delegate involved with U.S. Capitol breach
CHARLESTON — An incoming member of the West Virginia House of Delegates is under scrutiny for his involvement with a mob that broke into the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to try and stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden.
Derrick Evans, who won election as a Republican in November to the 19th District representing Wayne County, was part of a mob that stormed the Capitol in Washington, D.C., as Congress met to certify Electoral College votes by the states.
A video originally posted to Evans’ Facebook page and later deleted shows Evans and dozens of violent protesters yelling “Whose house? Our House” and “Trump” breaking into the Capitol through a doorway. At one point, Evans turns the phone around to show himself before the mob begins going through the door. The deleted video was posted on Reddit.
Once inside, Evans fist-bumped a Capitol Police officer, telling the officer no one would get hurt and they still respect police officers, before entering the rotunda of the Capitol.
“No vandalizing, these are artifacts,” Evans said while walking around the Rotunda filled with historic paintings depicting scenes from the founding of the United States.
Evans was part of a group of West Virginians who traveled to Washington by bus for the “Stop The Steal” rally, featuring President Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. It’s unclear if other West Virginians also broke into the Capitol.
In a statement posted Wednesday on a Facebook Page called “Derrick Evans — The Activist,” Evans claimed he was acting as a member of the media when following the mob into the Capitol.
“I want to assure you all that I did not have any negative interactions with law enforcement, nor did I participate in any destruction that may have occurred,” Evans said. “I was simply there as an independent member of the media to film history.”
Evans works as a real estate investor and property manager and previously worked in Wayne County as a teacher. He was one of two new delegates to win seats in the House of Delegates from the 19th District in Wayne County.
The FBI announced Thursday it is seeking to identify individuals who either instigated violence in Washington on Wednesday or participated. The bureau is accepting tips, videos and photos showing rioting at the Capitol.
“Our criminal prosecutors have been working throughout the night with special agents and investigators from the U.S. Capitol Police, FBI, ATF, Metropolitan Police Department and the public to gather the evidence, identify perpetrators, and charge federal crimes where warranted,” said Acting U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen on Thursday.
West Virginia’s two U.S. attorneys also announced they were reviewing Wednesday’s breach of the Capitol and considering charges against any West Virginians who may have been involved.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said Thursday he wants Evans and any West Virginians who were involved with breaching the Capitol to face criminal charges.
“I have been made aware that West Virginians were among the crowd that illegally entered the U.S. Capitol yesterday,” Manchin said. “Let me be clear. The seditious acts we witnessed in the hallowed halls of Congress yesterday were criminal and un-American. I am going to do everything in my power to ensure anyone who entered the Capitol illegally will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
An effort is underway to force Evans to resign or be removed from office. A petition on Change.org calling for his removal already was well on its way to reaching 35,000 signatures as of Thursday afternoon.
The minority leaders of both the House of Delegates and Senate also called for Evans to be penalized for his participation in Wednesday’s mob action. They were joined in their call by Belinda Biafore and Rod Snyder, co-chairs of the West Virginia Democratic Party.
Incoming Kanawha County state Sen. Eric Nelson, a former member of the House of Delegates, was one of the first Republican state lawmakers to publicly call for Evans to resign or be removed from office.
Nelson was joined by Delegate Ben Queen, R-Harrison. Posting on his Facebook page, Queen said Evans should show respect for the constitutional values he claims to have by resigning.
“His actions do not reflect the West Virginia values that so many of us share and work so hard to defend,” Queen said. “We have a lot to accomplish if West Virginia is going to move in a direction for which we can all be proud of. I don’t believe that Delegate Derrick Evans can be part of that journey moving forward.”