Editorial: Delegate’s actions must be addressed

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 9, 2021

West Virginia Delegate Derrick Evans

On Wednesday, the nation was stunned as a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, seeking to put a stop to the confirmation of the Electoral Vote count.

In the ensuing chaos, one protester was shot and killed, three died from medical conditions and a capitol police officer died from injuries received from protesters.

The violence led to a lockdown of the building, which was vandalized, with windows broken and congressional offices looted.

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Shortly after, video emerged online of one of those storming the building who resides here in the Tri-State — Derrick Evans, who was recently elected as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Evans, prior to election, hosted a Facebook page proclaiming himself “Derrick the activist.” He is a regular on the region’s talk radio and and has attracted considerable controversy around the region in his activities, including having a restraining order against him from a worker at Women’s Health Center in Charleston, West Virginia, after a magistrate found that Evans had engaged in “stalking” and made “repeated credible threats of bodily injury.”

Following the footage from Washington, D.C., Evans claimed to have been covering the event as a member of the media. Yet, as his posts before the event showed, he was clearly there for political reasons and can be seen joining the mob in various chants.

While Evans is not alleged to have taken part in the violent clashes, looting or vandalism, he was still part of a group who stormed the building, hoping to interrupt the peaceful transfer of power.

And there is no dispute of this, as he filmed himself entering and can be heard screaming “We’re in, baby!” and “Derrick Evans is in the Capitol!”

Free speech and transparency of government are ideals we uphold, and we believe the public should have reasonable access to leaders and government facilities, but what Evans did was beyond that.

It was reported on Friday that Evans is now facing federal charges.

Security protocols have been in place around the capitol for years, especially in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. Those who recall that day know that the Capitol and its inhabitants were intended targets that day.

This is not something officials take lightly and many have called for those involved to be prosecuted for trespassing.

So it is only common sense that access be limited to the building during a joint session of Congress, especially in a contentious debate.

Since the video emerged, Evans, who represents the district that encompasses Wayne County, just across the river from our region, has faced bipartisan calls for his resignation from the Legislature, and a petition calling for such action has received tens of thousands of signatures from the public.

Leaders are now weighing options, including a possible expulsion vote.

Through his actions, Evans has clearly disqualified himself from representing the people of his district, and should be removed from office.