Harris marks Jan. 6, calls on Black South Carolina voters to defend rights

Harris marks Jan. 6, calls on Black South Carolina voters to defend rights

MYRTLE BEACH, South Carolina (Reuters) -Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday marked the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol with remarks in South Carolina, where the state’s Democratic primary will be held on Feb. 3.

Harris spoke on the anniversary of the deadly attacks after Biden offered scathing criticism of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump’s actions that day in a speech near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, on Friday.

The vice president delivered the keynote address at the 7th Episcopal District AME Church Women’s Missionary Society annual retreat in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

“Three years ago today, on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob violently attacked the United States Capitol they used brutal force and fear to try to overturn the results of a free and fair election. They tried to overrule the votes of millions of Americans,” Harris said.

“On that day, we saw violence, chaos, and lawlessness, but some so-called leaders still tried to mislead and gaslight by saying it was a peaceful protest,” she said.

Trump hit back at Biden in his first visit to Iowa this year on Friday. “Not one thing has gotten better under crooked Joe Biden. Everything’s a mess,” Trump said to several hundred supporters at the rally in the state. Trump only briefly addressed the events of Jan. 6, repeating unfounded claims that the 2020 contest was marred by widespread voter fraud. He was slated to talk in Iowa later on Saturday.

Biden credits South Carolina with catapulting him to the White House in 2020, and the state was moved to the top spot in the party’s nominating calendar, ahead of Iowa and New Hampshire.

The AME, or African Methodist Episcopal church, formed in response to racial discrimination in an American Methodist church in the late 1700s, has thousands of congregations worldwide and several million members. Biden will speak at the Mother Emanuel AME in South Carolina on Monday, where nine members were killed by a white supremacist in 2015.

Although Biden is not facing serious competition for the Democratic presidential nomination, polls show he has lost some support from Black voters nationwide. A strong primary turnout in a state where the majority of Democratic voters are Black would calm fears about his electability among the party.

Before an audience of hundreds of mostly Black women church leaders, Harris said the audience’s support had lifted Biden to the White House and led to the expansion of postpartum care and the replacement of lead pipes in largely Black communities. She said some Republicans intended to roll back their reproductive healthcare and voting rights.

“Let us not throw up our hands. It is time to roll up our sleeves. We were born for a time such as this and we love our country,” Harris said.

The FBI executed three federal arrest warrants for three Jan. 6 fugitives early on Saturday at a ranch in Groveland, Florida, it said. Taken into custody were Jonathan Daniel Pollock, Olivia Michele Pollock, and Joseph Daniel Hutchinson, it said. They are scheduled to appear in federal court in Ocala, Florida, on Jan. 8.

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