LEWISTON — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to condemn the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, even as several councilors appeared wary of how the message would be received by local constituents.

The resolution, introduced by Councilor Alicia Rea, sought to condemn the attack that took place as Congress prepared to certify Electoral College ballots, and to advocate for “the sanctity of elections” and the local clerks that make voting accessible.

But while councilors agreed with the condemnation of violence, some questioned why the council was using its time to weigh in on the attack, and what it could accomplish.

Councilor Luke Jensen originally moved to table the resolution, stating that while he agreed with its language, and was “appalled” by the Jan. 6 attack, the resolution “is not going to change anyone’s opinion.”

“There’s a lot on our council goals list that we haven’t done, and I’d rather work on that than something like this,” he said. “For people who are living in Lewiston that are struggling, seeing us take on something like this, is probably a little disheartening for them.”

Rea said she introduced the resolution in order for the city to reaffirm its commitment to a cooperative transfer of power, whether it’s in Washington or Lewiston.

“The U.S. Capitol is our Capitol,” she said. “No matter who is president, they work for us the same way we work for people in Lewiston. I thought it was important for us to say something.”

The resolution condemns “the acts of violence and insurrection demonstrated on Jan. 6, 2021, and commit(s) the city to upholding democratic institutions, governing by example and the rule of law.”

Councilor Lee Clement offered an amendment adding the words “and the rule of law” to the statement, and said that while he didn’t agree with the use of the term “insurrection” to describe the attack, he would support the resolution.

Clement, however, also questioned why the council was stepping in.

“I’m not sure it’s our duty or function to inject ourselves into a federal matter, but given the sentiment surrounding the occurrences of Jan. 6, I’ll put that aside,” he said.

Clement also said “the situation we find ourselves in is not the fault of any one person, party or ideology. There’s blame enough to go around full circle. Perhaps the time has come for all sides to be deprogrammed and return to the era when we more commonly got along despite our differences. What I cannot, and will not condone is the use of force and violence to achieve one’s goals or objectives.”

Councilor Stephanie Gelinas said she was unsure of the proposed language, and thought it should “condemn all acts of violence.”

“I’m trying to get at this from a less political angle,” she said.

Rea responded that the very process that was violently interrupted on Jan. 6 — the certification of votes — is political. She said the language was simply “in hopes we never see that again on that level, or on our level.”

Clement agreed.

“I think the intention is to commit us to condemn anything that occurs on this level,” he said. “What we’re seeing now — military vehicles, armed troops, razor wire, that’s just horrendous. We should condemn anything that brings us to this point. I don’t care where it is.”

During public comment, Lewiston resident Chris Beam said he supported the resolution.

“This attack was more than just an act of vandalism, it was a direct assault upon our democracy, our constitution,” he said. “It impacts all of us at every level of government.”

“We urge individual citizens and public officials to speak out against this crime, which Councilor Rea is doing with the resolution,” Beam added. “If Lewiston passes this, it could inspire other cities to take a stand against similar attacks.”

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