Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is facing criticism for remarks about the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol that at least one lawmaker in his home state called “racist.”
Johnson said during an interview last week with radio host Joe Pagliarulo that he was not afraid for his safety during the siege but might have been had the rioters been affiliated with “Black Lives Matter and antifa.”
“Now, had the tables been turned — and Joe, this is going to get me in trouble — had the tables been turned and [former] President Trump won the election and those were tens of thousands of Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters, I might have been a little concerned,” the senator said.
The remarks drew criticism from Democrats and others in the press and on social media who argued that Johnson had basically admitted that those who stormed the Capitol, killing one police officer and dealing grievous injuries to dozens of others, were his own supporters, while protesters who speak out against police brutality and racism were not.
“For him to say something as racist as that — it’s ridiculous,” Wisconsin state Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D), who is Black, told The Associated Press. “It’s a totally racist comment and the insult to injury is he didn’t mind saying it in the position that he holds because for some reason that’s just deemed as acceptable behavior for people who live in and are elected officials in this state.”
“Ron Johnson’s racist comments make it clear he stands with violent criminals who threaten our democracy,” tweeted Sarah Godlewski (D), the state’s treasurer.
“Ron Johnson said the racist part out loud,” added the anti-Trump Lincoln Project organization in a tweet.
In a statement to The Hill, Johnson cited demonstrations that occurred across the country throughout 2020 as explanation for why he did not feel threatened during the violent siege on the Capitol.
“Out of 7,750 protests last summer associated with leftists, 570 turned into violent riots that killed 25 people and caused $1- $2 billion of property damage. That’s why I would have been more concerned,” he said.
At least five people died as a result of the attack on the U.S. Capitol, including one Capitol Police officer. Police officials reported in the days after the siege that dozens of officers faced serious injuries resulting from the riot, including one who lost an eye. Two other officers died by suicide in the days after the attack. Dozens of Metropolitan Police officers were also injured.
“I have officers who were not issued helmets prior to the attack who have sustained head injuries,” the Capitol Police union’s chairman, Gus Papathanasiou, told The Washington Post in January. “One officer has two cracked ribs and two smashed spinal discs and another was stabbed with a metal fence stake, to name some of the injuries.”