By MARK WEST
and RAY DYER
The El Reno Tribune
Canadian County Sheriff Chris West said he traveled to the nation’s capitol earlier this week to attend the Save America Rally, because President Donald Trump “has done so much in support of law enforcement during a very difficult time.”
West has been criticized on social media for attending the rally that turned violent and left four people dead, including a police officer, but he said the attacks are out of place. A petition has been filed with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter asking for the removal of the sheriff. It was filed by Brandy Becerra of Oklahoma City and can be found at change.org.
“I’m being accused of being a member of a far right wing organization,” West said.
“That’s just insane. I’m a Marine veteran and a career law enforcement officer who loves this country. I’m a firm believer in the First Amendment and I chose to exercise my right to it.”
He said he went to the capitol as a private citizen.
The petition says because of West’s beliefs, they believe he has an inability to hold his position without bias.
During a press conference at 2 p.m. Friday, West said he disagreed.
“If we get a call, we go,” West said. “We don’t ask your race, religion, color or political party. We go.”
The sheriff also disavowed the violence at the capitol, and had no part in it. He said at one point as he was walking with “hundreds of thousands” towards the capitol and he could see capitol law enforcement skirmishing with protestors.
West said he feared for his family and chose not to “post anything” about attending the rally for fear his family could be “doxed” – a term used when those with opposing views identify people so they can be attacked through social media or, at times, in person.
West said he traveled by vehicle to Washington, D.C., with two fellow supporters of Trump. He said they began the return trip after the Wednesday rally and arrived home Thursday night.
The two-term sheriff has been an outspoken supporter of Trump, saying the president has “stood with law enforcement while others are calling for police to be defunded.”
West said he knows the violence occurred inside the Capitol, but he personally did not see that part of the day unfold.
“What we saw were hundreds of thousands of patriots from all over the country and from all walks of life,” West said.
He said the crowd included all ethnic groups.
“We saw Asians, Blacks, Native Americans, Latinos. They were celebrating freedom. Many of them were praying and singing the National Anthem. There were Native Americans praying and playing ceremonial drums,” West said. “We spoke with immigrants who came to America. They said they had been told that Trump and America were evil and they would be persecuted, but when they got here they found that wasn’t the case. That America was a place for freedom and opportunity.”
West said he has been told there is a petition that has been filed seeking to have him removed from office.
“I was told it was sent to the attorney general,” West said. “I know there are people who don’t like me, but this is still America where we have the right to disagree, but it must be done peacefully. In no way do I condone violence.”