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New England may have voted overwhelmingly blue in the last presidential election, but busloads of people traveled from here to Washington, D.C. last week and were there during the violent storming of the U.S. Capitol over the election results.
What consequences they may face is now a matter of investigation and debate.
The town hall in Troy, New Hampshire limited its hours to the public Monday after receiving threats because Police Chief David Ellis went to Washington last week. Troy select board chairman Dick Thackston said the town received dozens of threats, some of them warning of physical violence unless Ellis stepped down. The town hall will now only conduct business by appointment.
"We received emails and voice mails of a threatening nature," Thackston said. "We felt out of an abundance of concern that we would make the building accessible by appointment-only. We just don't want anything unfortunate to happen."
The New Hampshire Democratic Party has called for Ellis to resign, saying he has brought shame on the state.
"For a police chief to attend a rally that led to such destruction and violence and express no regret is simply unimaginable," said New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley in a statement.
Ellis declined to comment for this story but told NHPR last week that he did not participate in the storming of the Capitol, saying, “That wasn’t the way to handle things.”
Thackston reiterated that Ellis was not involved in the violence, and said the chief has a right to demonstrate and he stands by him.
"He went to a presumably intentionally peaceful demonstration sponsored by the president of the United States," Thackston said. "But a group of other people who apparently were participants in it raided the U.S. Capitol, which is appalling and terrible, but that doesn't involve our chief."
At least two other communities are investigating local officials' involvement. Natick acting town administrator Robert Rooney said the town has received a petition calling for the resignation of Town Meeting member Suzanne Ianni. She posted on social media about her participation and that she had helped organize buses to travel to Washington. Rooney said the town has forwarded the petition to law enforcement and will make a public statement later this week.
Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone said an investigation is underway into Jessica Turner, a member of the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund. She also posted about being in Washington, but reportedly has said that she did not participate in the violent storming of the Capitol.
"Those involved must be held to account — and to uphold the values we seek to protect, we must do so fairly and justly," Curtatone said in a statement. "The City of Somerville is duty-bound to investigate, verify, and follow the law and City process when addressing concerns about the conduct of a board or commission member, as we would an employee. That process will get underway immediately."
At least one Massachusetts employer has fired a worker for being in Washington. UMass Memorial Health Care in Worcester said Friday that a UMass caregiver who may have been involved "is no longer part of our organization." UMass says it is investigating whether other employees attended.
Those involved could face criminal charges as well. Among those arrested last week was 33-year-old David Ross, of Pittsfield. He was charged with unlawful entry and violating the curfew imposed in D.C. on Wednesday night after the violence erupted. Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Andrew Lelling has said "anyone who traveled from Massachusetts with the intent to commit such crimes will be prosecuted in the district of Massachusetts.”
Federal authorities say they are going through thousands of social media posts to determine whether more people will be arrested.
Legal experts say the participants could face charges related to the five deaths that occurred in the riots, and some could be charged with sedition.
This segment aired on January 12, 2021.
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