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The State We're In connects with people in Central Florida and the greater Tampa Bay region about issues that matter to you. From the coronavirus to special coverage of politics along the I-4 corridor, it’s a chance to hear your neighbors, and better understand their experience.The State We’re In is a collaboration of WUSF Public Media in Tampa and 90.7 WMFE in Orlando and is part of America Amplified, a national community engagement and reporting initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.[Join Us On Facebook]

These Florida Voters 'Shocked' And 'Appalled' Over Capitol Siege

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We asked voters we met before the election to share their thoughts on American democracy in light of last week's events.

Last week’s siege by pro-Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol was the culmination of an incredibly polarizing political season.

Leading up to the November 2020 election, WUSF News spoke with voters who lived in communities along the I-4 corridor to try and hear from the people, and not politicians.

We shared their concerns about the state of the democracy then, and reached out to them again in the hours following the riots and the vote to certify Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next President and Vice President of the United States.

We asked three questions: Where were you and when did you first hear about the violence? What were your first thoughts? How are you feeling at this point about this election?

Here are their responses, in their own words.

Phyllis Young, St. Petersburg
Her perspective before the election: For St. Petersburg Voter, Health And Social Justice Are Top Issues

Where were you and when did you first hear about the violence?

I was at home and I kept getting various news feeds on my phone and on my tablet.

What were your first thoughts?

I am appalled. This all Trump’s fault. He is a sick individual and should be removed from office. He should be charged with sedition and insurrection for continuously inciting this. The fact that people listen to him is disturbing to me. I pray for our nation and the division that was created by the President of the United States.

How are you feeling at this point about this election?

The election was a fair election. America spoke by voting Donald Trump out. I am hopeful for a new administration and some normalcy with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I'm excited that the two Democratic senators from Georgia will be going to (Congress) and maybe we can turn around some of the craziness over the last four years.

Head shot of Michelle Llamas.
Courtesy: Michelle Llamas
Michelle Llamas, 42, of DeBary in Volusia County.

Michelle Llamas, Debary
Her perspective before the election: Social Equality, Health Care, Higher Education Are Top Issues For One Florida Voter

Where were you and when did you first hear about the violence?

I work from home and was working when a friend told me about the riots at the Capitol. I also saw some stories from NPR and others on social media.

What were your first thoughts?

When I first heard about it, I was angry and saddened by these events. This isn't something that should happen in our country. Quite frankly, it's an outrage that these people disrespectfully broke into the Capitol and threatened the safety of everyone there.

How are you feeling at this point about this election?

I have never seen such violence in an election, such a spread of misinformation and disregard for facts. It's embarrassing and disheartening. I am eager for the new administration to provide the leadership we need to bring stability back to our country, and I'm optimistic for the future.

A landscape headshot of 27 year-old James Moore smiling in front of a white brick background.
Courtesy: James Moore
James Moore, 27, of Osceola County, Florida.

James Moore, Osceola County
His perspective before the election: Transportation, Climate Change And Public Health Are Top Issues For One Florida Voter

Where were you and when did you first hear about the violence?

I first heard that there were protesters gathering in Washington D.C. on the 2 p.m. news update from NPR while I was picking up my children from school. When I got home around 2:20 p.m., I walked into the house and a relative said, “You haven’t been watching this!?!?” and walked me to the TV.

What were your first thoughts?

It’s hard to say what my first thoughts were upon looking at the TV. The feeling was one of shock, but, sadly, not surprised. I stood in silence just looking at the television watching individuals with an assortment of flags walking through the United State’s Capitol Rotunda and a mob on the capital steps.

I stood in shock but, again not surprised, that the 45th president of the United States told these people to do this.

Next, I called my 6-year-old daughter into the room to watch and explain to her that this is not how we do things, this is not how democracy works, and that we are better than this.

How are you feeling at this point about this election?

I feel that at this point the election is OVER! Joseph R. Biden will be President of the United States come Jan. 20, 2021, and that he won the office of the President fairly.

In retrospect, the mob that breached the United States Capitol is a small group of radicals who have fallen prey to 2020 election falsehoods and conspiracy theories. This group of people will not bring down our democracy! Now it is time for the majority to move forward in an effort to work together for a more perfect union.

Michael Weinbaum.JPG
WMFE

Michael Weinbaum, Winter Garden
His perspective before the election: For A Winter Garden Man, The Pandemic Will Influence His Votes

Where were you and when did you first hear about the violence?

I was at work and I checked CNN.com. CNN had been running a set of three headlines that I thought were all a bit overwrought, I think they combined them into "America on the Brink." But at about 2 p.m., I refreshed and it said, "Capitol Breached."

What were your first thoughts?

My first thought was, ‘That can't be real.’ I didn't know that there was going to be a rally and that many people would be around. My next thoughts were, ‘How deep does this go, how far can they go? Are any "good guys" going to stand down? Do the bad guys have help on the inside?’

It took time for all of that to play out. I went to an abcnews.com livestream and it ruined the rest of my afternoon and night.

How are you feeling at this point about this election?

I don't feel good at all. I prefer a lot of Donald Trump's policy positions, but I always thought he was not capable of being a good president. It's like seeing a new driver ignoring stop signs, and warning him, "you will eventually crash"... Five years later, I'm certainly not cheering because he crashed. And no one else is happy about it either.

Yet on social media, I do see people blaming anybody but Trump, blame Mitt Romney and Ben Sasse for not being loyal, blame Bill Barr for not being loyal, blame Democrats for fomenting much less serious riots, about a much more important topic, six months prior to this. Blame anybody but Trump.

Myles Suber
Myles Suber
Myles Suber

A fifth participant in our Voter Voices series, Myles Suber, could not be reached for comment. Here is his perspective from before the election. 'I'm A Floridian And I Vote.' St. Pete Veteran Shares His Thoughts On Democracy

This story is a part of America Amplified, a national reporting initiative supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

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