Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam castigated rioters who stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6 and said their actions were “egged on from conspiracy theories and lies from a president who could not accept losing."
“Their goal was simple: overturn a legal and fair election,” Northam said Wednesday during his annual State of the Commonwealth address. “Those were scenes I don’t believe any of us ever expected to see in our lifetime. But none of that just happened. None of it was an accident and nothing about it was spontaneous.”
Northam thanked state troopers and the Virginia National Guard, both of which were among the first law enforcement agencies to respond to the riots.
“These men and women dropped everything and raced to defend our country’s temple of democracy,” he said. "While others hesitated, Virginians were first on the scene. It made me proud to see that line of state police cars racing across the 14th Street Bridge.”
Northam also took a moment of silence to honor the memory of Capitol Police officers Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, both of whom died in the aftermath of the riots.
Despite the incident, Northam expressed optimism for the country as it moved forward from the incident.
“Americans are better than this and I pray that we all can summon the better angels of our nature in this new year,” he said.