CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Local former mayoral candidate Joe Michael Perez traveled with a group to Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. He was unsure of the validity of the 2020 presidential election results, and wanted show his support for President Donald Trump.
What unfolded was a day of chaos.
The way Perez sees things, he said he'd do it all again.
"If the rally were to happen again today, yes, I would," he said. “It’s a different time, because at that time, it was that day where Congress were going to make a decision about the election, so. But if all that was to repeat, then yes.”
Viral videos show rioters storming the Capitol, fighting with law enforcement along the way. He said he saw different events.
"When I was there it was a peaceful demonstration," Perez said. "It’s a controversial subject. They may say otherwise, but when I was there it was like a walkthrough."
District 15 Congressman Vicente Gonzalez had a different perspective.
"You could feel the tension," said the representative based in McAllen. "And it was so high that I took my congressional pin off and my tie off as I walked through the streets and walked through these folks. Right in the middle of them — to my office."
Gonzalez said that day, politicians on both sides of the aisle condemned President Trump for inciting the violence. But he also said that some Republicans did go back on their words.
“Democrats and Republicans — I think everybody was fearful, not only for themselves and their own safety and the safety of their staff and family, but fearful of what was to be that evening," he said.
The New York Times reports that four people died in the crowd at the riot, while three officers who worked at The Capitol that day also have died.
Since then, more than 700 people have been arrested and charged.
“Those who participated in the riots should be severely punished and disincentivized from ever doing it again," Gonzalez said. "And I think the message needs to be sent to anyone who dares think these ideas, that there will be severe repercussions.”
Perez feels like those arrested should all be pardoned.
“There’s a couple of people there right now who are being punished for showing a peaceful demonstration,” Perez said.
Perez said he stands by everything he believed that day — he believes it was a peaceful demonstration, and there was widespread voter fraud, despite the lack of evidence. He claims discovering voter fraud will take a few years.
"Now you have a couple of bad apples, but a couple of bad apples does not resemble the majority," said Perez. "The majority there that were there peacefully. Peacefully demonstrating, patriotically.”
Gonzales believes some that were convicted were not punished severely enough.
"I was told a few of them want to run for office and use their participation on Jan. 6 riots a s a platform to their political career," said Gonzales. "That is such a disgrace."
A special House Investigative Committee is looking into how everything happened and how it can be prevented in the future.