By Beth Lawrence
As the fallout from the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol begins, people nationwide are learning that friends and neighbors took part in one form or another. A Sylva man is allegedly in that number.
Easton Cantwell, owner of Sip Sum Kava Bar, posted to his Facebook page last Thursday claiming he was at the D.C. riots as a documentarian.
“It is my right to go to any event I want,” Cantwell’s post reads. “Yesterday was historic, and I went to see something. I just wasn’t aware I would see what I saw.”
What Cantwell was likely referring to is insurrectionists, some armed, laying siege to the U.S. Capitol.
The morning began with an event billing itself as the “Save America Rally.” Speakers, including District 11 Representative Madison Cawthorn, addressed the crowd with varying degrees of bellicose language.
Speaking shortly before noon, President Donald Trump reinforced the crowd’s anger, telling them to go to the Capitol.
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by bold and radical left Democrats which is what they are doing and stolen by the fake news media,” Trump said. “Our country has had enough … Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy. And after this, we’re going to walk down, and I’ll be there with you…Anyone you want, but I think right here, we’re going to walk down to the Capitol – and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen, and women and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.
“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
The crowd did just that, but they didn’t stop there. They laid siege to the building interrupting a constitutionally mandated session to count Electoral College results and certify Joe Biden as the next president.
By 2 p.m. the gates on the eastern and western sides of the Capitol had been breached. Shortly thereafter, crowds, some dressed in full tactical gear, carrying flex cuffs and brandishing pepper spray, riot shields and batons, whether theirs or those of overwhelmed Capitol Police, entered the building shouting slogans such as “Stop the steal,” and “Hang Pence,” presumably Vice President Mike Pence at whom Trump was angry for refusing to overturn election results, an action outside Pence’s purview.
With elected officials and their staffs crouching under desks and hiding behind chairs and Secret Service agents barricading doors with furniture, insurgents invaded the Capitol, including both chambers of Congress, destroying furniture and rifling through paperwork left behind as Representatives and Senators hastily evacuated.
All of this, Cantwell says he went to document.
“I was there since 3:30 that morning video documenting everything,” he wrote. “People got mad when [P]ence didn’t do what they wanted, so Trump supporters stormed that building, not Antifa, not BLM, not undercover feds. That’s all garbage lies. I talked to people up front. Most were veterans and small business owners.”
Cantwell goes on to claim that news media reports of what happened are false, saying no buildings were burned and damage done was minimal. He claims there were only 20 rioters in the corridor where he was and that they were stopped by riot police. He says he has video evidence.
He also defended Trump.
“I was at the rally and he (presumably Trump) didn’t say a thing that could be [a]lluded to as instigating it,” he wrote. Cantwell ends the post by again defending his presence there, saying he went to record events for himself because he cannot trust the government or the media and that he is not a domestic terrorist but a patriot.
Cantwell declined three Herald requests for an interview and appears to have removed his Facebook page.