Oklahoma's congressional delegation seemed to be safe Wednesday afternoon as a violent mob of supporters for President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol and momentarily gained access to both the House and Senate chambers.
U.S. Sen. James Lankford was about 2½ minutes into a speech supporting a delay in congressional approval of the 2020 presidential election when proceedings were suddenly suspended because of the attack.
In his speech, Lankford said Vice President Mike Pence, as president of the Senate, could not disqualify the electoral votes of individual states, as President Donald Trump had claimed Pence could only a few hours earlier. But Lankford repeated Sen. Ted Cruz’s request for a 10-day “audit” of the results, which he said many Americans question.
“I have some colleagues who have said that a 10-day commission is not enough time, and so they have counter-proposed just ignoring the lingering questions,” Lankford said. “We need to do something.”
Seconds later, he was interrupted and informed something was indeed happening.
"Peaceful demonstration is an American value — violent destruction is not," Lankford tweeted later. "Attacking police and destroying the Capitol is never pursuit of truth and freedom. Never."
Representatives of Lankford, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe and Congressmen Frank Lucas, Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin all said those members were safe.
"My staff and I are safe inside the Capitol Complex," Lucas tweeted. "I thank the Capitol Police who are risking their safety to protect my colleagues and our staff.
"I unequivocally condemn the violence and riots seen today in and around the Capitol, and I pray for the restoration of peace."
Hern posted a brief statement on Facebook in which he said “the violence must stop.”
In one photo, Mullin can be seen looking on a few feet from a standoff on the House floor involving what appear to be armed security guards and an intruder.
According to a tweet by Huffington Post's Matt Fuller, Mullin "tried to reason with protesters" at risk to his personal safety.
Mullin later posted on Twitter: "I 100% support peaceful protest but this is not it. What is happening at the Capitol right now is unacceptable and it has to stop immediately."
Mullin, Hern, Lankford and Reps. Tom Cole and Stephanie Bice all planned to participate in efforts to block formal certification of Democrat Joe Biden's election on Wednesday based on debunked and unproven claims of fraud propagated by Trump and his supporters.
All were attacked on social media for being complicit in Wednesday’s attacks, but others supported them, repeating Trump’s claims that the election had been stolen.
Clay Clark, a Tulsa businessman who sued the city of Tulsa over its mask mandate, was seen at one event in Washington on Wednesday morning encouraging a largely maskless crowd to hug each other.
Another Tulsa-area resident who was among more than 100 Oklahomans reportedly in Washington to protest said she was not at the Capitol when the assault began.
"We just left the White House," she texted just after 1 p.m. "Things were very peaceful. We are getting ready to head to the Capitol."
Asked if she would try to get into the Capitol, she said: "Heavens, no. We are here to be peaceful while we protest."
A half-hour later, she texted: "It's bad, my friend."
Oklahoma lawmakers, officials react to unrest in Washington
"I have always protected and supported the right for peaceful demonstration but we cannot stand for violence," Gov. Kevin Stitt wrote on Twitter. "What is happening at the U.S. Capitol right now is unacceptable and needs to stop immediately. This is not what America is about. Praying for the safety of all."
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum, who had previously shied away from commenting on national political affairs, wrote on his personal Facebook page that the actions of rioters was "a disgrace" and "unlawful."
"What is happening at our United States Capitol right now is a disgrace," said Bynum. "It is an attempt at intimidating the lawful processes of our country, and it will fail."
Said the Tulsa County Democratic Party in statement released Wednesday afternoon:
"Local Democrats are appalled and disgusted by the events taking place at the Nation’s capitol. For months, Republicans across the Nation were informed and made aware of the sentiments behind this coup attempt. Representatives made the decision to align themselves with President Trump and continued to challenge the results of a well-determined and certified election."
Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who joined a Texas lawsuit challenging the presidential election results in Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin last month, described the violence as "appalling and unacceptable."
"I echo the sentiments of Vice President Mike Pence, who said 'peaceful protest is the right of every American but this attack on our Capitol will not be tolerated and those involved will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,'" Hunter said in a statement.
“I hope Oklahomans join me in praying for those hurt in today’s attack on the Capitol, the safety of those attempting to restore order and pray for peace and healing for our nation.”
State Rep. John Waldron, D-Tulsa, called upon Stitt to denounce the violence.
"I call upon the Governor and all state leaders to denounce the violence in the Capitol and uphold the sanctity of the presidential election," he said. "This insurrection is the product of President Trump's rhetoric and history will judge it harshly."
Outgoing 5th District Congresswoman Kendra Horn, tweeted that the takeover of the U.S. Capitol was "not a protest, it is an insurrection. Let's call this what it is: domestic terrorism."