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Kentucky resolution defending Jan. 6th protesters stalls in Sen. Judiciary committee

Insurrectionists try to break through a police barrier at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.
Julio Cortez
/
Associated Press
Violent insurrectionists loyal to President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier at the Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.

A state Senate resolution claiming Jan. 6th protesters have been wrongfully “held without due process,” appears stalled in the Judiciary committee.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Tichenor of Smithfield is sponsoring Senate Resolution 50 that claims Americans, including Kentuckians, were unconstitutionally held without the right to due process for participating in protests on January 6, 2021. 

The Republican Party of Kentucky’s governing body, called the Republican State Central Committee, approved identical language over the weekend.

Tichenor’s resolution was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Republican Committee Chairman Whitney Westerfield of Crofton told LPM News he does not intend to call it up for consideration.

“I do not wish to give it a hearing,” Westerfield said.

Unless the resolution is reassigned to a different committee, Westerfield’s disinterest in hearing it effectively stalls the proposal. The resolution can’t advance to a vote by the full Senate unless he brings it up in the Judiciary Committee for consideration first.

Senate President Robert Stivers indicated in a statement to reporters earlier this week that the resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee as part of the chamber’s typical process.

In an online post Tuesday, Westerfield publicly criticized the Republican Party of Kentucky’s governing body for approving language identical to Senate Resolution 50.

“What I saw on January 6, 2021 was not a lawful exercise of constitutional rights, but a criminal assault on our democracy and the institutions that guarantee it,” he said. “I will not honor it, will not water it down, hedge or equivocate about it, or stand by idly as others try to white wash the events that transpired on that day.”

He went on to say that a state party isn’t suited to determine if people are being held in custody improperly.

Saturday was the three-year anniversary of the insurrection in Washington, D.C., when people swarmed the U.S. Capitol, breached the halls of Congress and temporarily stopped lawmakers’ certification of President Joe Biden’s legitimate election. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. says rioters assaulted around 140 police officers that day.

Federal officials are still in the middle of a massive criminal investigation over the attack. A Jan. 5 update says over 1,200 people — including more than 20 Kentuckians — have been arrested so far, with charges ranging from entering a restricted federal building and destroying government property to assault and seditious conspiracy.

The update said about 749 of the defendants had been sentenced to date. A minority of Jan. 6 defendants have been held in pretrial detention.

The Hardin County Republican Party posted on Facebook about the state party’s decision on Saturday, saying it was a tight vote of 34-32.

Starting Monday, LPM News sent requests for comment to the Republican Party of Kentucky’s spokesperson. It hadn’t received a response as of Wednesday afternoon.

Tichenor’s resolution says citizens from Kentucky and across the U.S. “exercised their First Amendment rights of free speech and assembly to express their frustration with the electoral process” on Jan. 6, 2021, and claims many of them “have been unconstitutionally held without the right to due process and the right to a speedy trial by a jury of their peers.”

Her proposal asks the Senate to formally “acknowledge the events of January 6, 2021, and recognize those citizens who have been wrongfully held without due process.”

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Tichenor told LPM News "participants in Jan. 6 have not been treated to fair proceedings," including several of the Kentuckians charged with criminal conduct.

"In all cases, citizens and non-citizens alike are afforded the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty and the right to due process," she said. "I appreciate the opportunity to bring attention to this issue and I do hope the general public will take the time to look into the stories of those participants of Jan.6 who have had their lives upended by an unfair process."

Morgan is LPM's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.