Editor’s Note (Jan. 11): In the following story, the subject of our interview, Samuel Redfern, claimed he saw several members of Antifa split off the group of protesters at the Capitol. Our story should have included the fact the FBI and the Department of Justice have said there was no indication that members of Antifa were part of the event.
Redfern also said that he did not hear or see President Trump order a mob to go to the Capitol. On Monday, House Democrats filed an impeachment resolution charging Trump with inciting an insurrection.
A Montana veteran attended the rally in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and says the violence stemmed from a small group of an otherwise orderly gathering.
"The energy was unbelievable," said Samuel Redfern, founder and president of the Montana Veterans Association based in Missoula. "You can feel it. The crowd was massive and it was just overflowing with citizens from all over the country."
Redfern attended the rally with his sister Abigail Redfern Maki, a freelance photojournalist.
"I was there not to do anything other than help my sister and our team document, record," Refern said. "So we weren't protesting we weren't taking any sides."
Redfern says he supports the President, but he also went to objectively watch and listen.
"I thought it was a helpful message," Redfern said about President Trump's speech. "There's a field of change in the air. There was optimism. There was kind of an energy. I know that people feel very passionately on one side that the President ordered a mob to go to the Capitol. And I challenge anybody, anywhere to look at his speech. Nowhere did we hear that, or see that in any message at all. I'll be honest with you, he did come across as a message that he was not done yet."
Redfern says a group of about 200 out of what he estimates as 300,000 to 500,000 at the rally broke into the Capitol.
"I've had several security gigs and working in the veterans world in the last year, and so I know Antifa very well," Redfern said. "I know their tactics. I know what they do and I saw several members of Antifa splitting off, and several members of other groups that I didn't recognize as Trump supporters. At no point did I ever enter the Capitol or come close. The farthest I've ever got was up on stairs to photograph and document. People sang God Bless America. People were praying. People were just saddened when they heard that there had been an Air Force veteran killed. I think when that word came out through the crowd, there was a ripple. And that's when things changed. I could feel the goose bumps and tension."
The rally and the President's speech came on a day when Congress certified the Electoral College vote for President-Elect Joe Biden.
The President and some members of Congress had stated there was fraud and irregularities in the election.
Redfern talked about these types of allegations in previous elections.
"We've had questions about elections for a long time now, with President Bush and Al Gore in 2000," Redfern said. "You had Hillary Clinton supporters in 2016 that had a hard time accepting the results of that election and couldn't believe some of the results."
And he says veterans will work to help the country.
"We've had questions about elections for a long time now," he said. "The veterans that I was talking to in DC, they were very much unified that they're going to start working for either some sort of national voting standards, or something that we can all in a bipartisan way move forward from."
Redfern is also co-founder and Director of the Georgia Veterans Association and met with that group this weekend.
He was also in Georgia during the two runoff elections for the U.S. Senate.