On the last day of her life, Rosanne Boyland marched through the streets of Washington, a don’t-tread-on-me flag draped over her shoulder. She carried a “Save America” sign and wore red-white-and-blue sunglasses.
The sticker on her hoodie declared, “I’m a Georgia voter.”
In Atlanta, attorney L. Lin Wood issued a call to action. “The time has come, Patriots,” he wrote to his 1.1 million Twitter followers. “This is our time. Time to take back our country. Time to fight for our freedom.”
Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw rallied with President Trump near the White House on Wednesday, listening as the president exhorted his supporters to head to the Capitol, where lawmakers were about to certify his loss in November’s election to President-elect Joe Biden. Then she joined the throng marching to the Capitol, where a mob stormed the building in a violent assault on the seat of American democracy.
“TODAY IS OUR DAY,” Wood tweeted.
Soon, the mob pushed past outnumbered police officers, sent lawmakers fleeing, and vandalized congressional offices. A rioter waved a Confederate flag in a building whose security was never breached during the Civil War.
By the end of the day, Wood — one of the most vocal supporters of Trump’s false conspiracy theories that the election had been stolen — was barred from Twitter.
And Boyland lay dead, one of four people killed during an unprecedented insurrection.
The consequences of the attack on the Capitol came into focus Thursday, in the hours after Congress officially declared Biden the next president and Trump, who had told supporters he would never concede, did just that.
Authorities identified many of the 82 people who were arrested in the Capitol and on the streets of Washington, including one Georgia resident: 53-year-old Chris Georgia. He was charged with unlawful entry and violating a citywide curfew that took effect at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
The circumstances of Boyland’s death remained unclear, however. In a news conference, Washington’s police chief, Robert Contee, said Boyland died after a medical emergency. The online news outlet Axios reported she was trampled as rioters surged into the Capitol.
In Kennesaw on Thursday, Boyland’s family tried to come to terms with her death, and one relative put the blame squarely on Trump.
“As we watched these events unfold, we hoped Rosanne was not among the crowd,” Boyland’s brother-in-law, Justin Cave, said in a statement he read to a reporter late Thursday. “Tragically, she was there, and it cost her life.”
Boyland had struggled with addiction, and was discharged in October from probation for cocaine and heroin possession, according to Cobb County court records.
But like others who occupied the Capitol, Cave said, she was passionate about her political beliefs.
“That’s their right,” he said. “But I personally believe, myself, that the president’s words and rhetoric incited a riot that cost four of his biggest supporters their lives, including my sister-in-law.”
Boyland’s family requested prayers and privacy, Cave said. Cave asked officials to invoke the Constitution’s 25th Amendment to immediately remove Trump from office.
Trump loyalist raged on social media
Two of the others who died at the Capitol suffered medical emergencies, police said. The fourth, a 35-year-old California woman, was shot by police.
The woman, Ashli Babbitt, was an Air Force veteran and outspoken Trump supporter. Her last social media post was a retweet of Lin Wood, who has filed lawsuits seeking to overturn the election results and has suggested that numerous officials, such as Vice President Mike Pence, be executed for treason.
Twitter permanently banned Wood from its platform early Thursday “for violation of the Twitter Rules,” a spokesperson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by email. The company declined to elaborate.
Wood briefly switched to another account, where he accused Pence of pedophilia.
“Get the firing squads ready,” Wood wrote. “Pence goes FIRST.”
After Twitter also shut down that account, Wood moved to Parler, a social media site favored by far-right activists.
On Thursday, Wood warned of reprisals against Trump’s supporters: “I am hearing rumors that Pence & leaders of coup are planning to arrest & execute President Trump & his followers.”
Within an hour, the post had been viewed 2.2 million times.
Wood, who became famous representing clients suing news organizations for libel, did not respond to a request for comment.
But in an interview Thursday with The New Yorker, he expressed skepticism about Wednesday’s events.
“I don’t believe anybody died yesterday,” he said. “I think it was all staged.”
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Militias marched in Atlanta
The violence in Washington cast a shadow on Georgia’s capital, as well. The General Assembly is scheduled to convene Monday amid the heightened tensions and continued accusations of election fraud. Much of the ire has been leveled at Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans.
As the chaos unfolded in Washington, Raffensperger and his staff left the Capitol under police escort, avoiding former white supremacist leader Chester Doles and several supporters who attempted to deliver a list of grievances.
“We heard reports of threats and left immediately,” Deputy Secretary of State Jordon Fuchs said.
Doles had been part of a small demonstration of pro-Trump protesters who waved American flags and Trump banners on Washington Street, across from the Capitol.
The group included about two dozen members of the far-right militia movement. Doles read a prepared statement of debunked conspiracy theories and charges of election tampering that have been denied by state officials and dismissed by judges.
Doles claims to have renounced his lifelong views but has maintained ties with white supremacists online. He recently gained attention when he was photographed posing with U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. The Republican, who lost a runoff election to Democrat Raphael Warnock this week, later denounced Doles.
Facing an implicit threat of violence, Kemp extended an executive order allowing him to deploy the National Guard. But no more details of how troops might be used to protect the Capitol have been released.
The crowd in Atlanta was quick to express its discontent with Kemp.
“We will primary him out. Don’t worry,” Kathy Conley of Adairsville said from beneath her red Trump hat. “They think we are ignorant, but we’re not.”