Governor Charlie Baker said Friday that protesters should not engage in violence, no matter what issues they’re advocating for, as the nation continues to reckon with Wednesday’s bloody siege of the US Capitol.
Baker, speaking at a State House news conference, was asked about reports that UMass Memorial Medical Health Care is trying to determine whether one or more of its employees were on the grounds of the Capitol Wednesday and what roles they played in the violence that claimed the lives of five people, including a Capitol police officer.
The tumult erupted after President Trump told supporters at a rally to “fight like hell” and walk to the Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory.
On Thursday, Baker called for Trump to be relieved of power. And on Friday, Baker said some demonstrations can turn to violence, no matter where protesters fall on the political spectrum.
“I find it fascinating that so many people, especially on social media ... want to say certain kinds of protests on things they care about were obviously peaceful, and certain protests on sides they disagree with were not,” Baker said, his voice rising.
“When to me, when I look at both of them I see the same thing,” he continued. “I see a bunch of people who showed up to peacefully protest, and a bunch of people who showed up to cause trouble. On both sides. Because I’m not looking at this anymore through the window of, you know, left or right or conservative or liberal.”
Baker referred to protests held over the summer, stressing that everyone has the right to peacefully demonstrate in public places, regardless of their point of view.
“Now when you have huge crowds — 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 30,000, which many of us saw last summer and sort of starts to represent the size of the crowd that was in DC the other day — I think it’s really important to separate the people who were there, or who go there, to engage in violent activity, or to trespass, or to break things that don’t belong to them, or to injure other people, or to pick a fight, versus the people who are there to protest or demonstrate about a cause they care about,” Baker said.
He also noted that demonstrators have gathered repeatedly outside his home in Swampscott.
“And the vast majority of the people who’ve been engaged in this — and they’re on all sides of all kinds of issues — you know, the only thing that people outside my house have in common is they’re either there to peacefully protest or pick a fight,” Baker said. “But in terms of the issue that they care about or what side they’re on, they’ve been all over the place.”
Which is perfectly fine, Baker stressed.
“And I and others should have no problem, no matter what somebody’s point of view is, that they engage in peaceful protest,” he said. “And the opposite is true as well. If people engage in violence, and to me that includes throwing things through windows or trying to trespass into areas that don’t belong to you, on private or public property, defined as public in the sense of the Capitol building, and I said this from the beginning, you should be arrested and prosecuted.”
Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.