Editor's note: The New York Times has reported that it incorrectly attributed the quote referred to below to Brian Hobbs instead of Eric Dark, of Braman, Okla.
Newkirk Mayor Brian Hobbs has been thrust into the spotlight after discussing his role in events at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in which the building was taken over by a mob of Trump supporters protesting the president’s election loss.
Hobbs was quoted in a New York Times story published Friday saying. "We had enough people, we could have tore that building down brick by brick.”
Hobbs said in a phone interview Friday that the quote mischaracterized his comments. He said there is a difference between saying what could have happened and calling for something to happen.
“They are putting it out there like I was part of some insurrection,” he said.
Hobbs also was featured by an Oklahoma TV station about his being at the protest, and said Friday that he had been interviewed by the Associated Press and the BBC. “I’m trying to clear it up,” he said.
Facebook terminated his account, he said. He was being pilloried on social media. An email to the Newkirk Herald Journal from an account named Jass Hugh stated, “Your mayor is a traitor. Ask him why he stormed the capitol.”
Hobbs told the CourierTraveler that he had been maligned and emphasized that “I do not support any violence or destruction of public or private property for any reason.”
He said he had not been contacted by any law enforcement about his role in the events, but he had been contacted by local law enforcement because “I’ve had death threats.”
The mayor said he did not go into inside the Capitol nor attempt to, and that he did not know what happened inside until later.
He was on the steps at one side of the building taking video, and said he did not witness illegal activity or any barricades stopping protestors. “I believe the president said go to the capitol,” Hobbs added.
In the phone interview, Hobbs was more reserved and nuanced than he was in a video posted to Facebook during his trip back to Oklahoma.
In the video, which was removed from Facebook but posted in part to YouTube by the Tulsa World, an emotional Hobbs goes on a profanity-peppered diatribe about “coward” elected officials and unsubstantiated claims about Antifa.
He claims the election was stolen and said military veterans would “set this right” if President Trump called them to.
Hobbs called U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., a coward for deciding not to object to the election results after the capitol was stormed.
“You acted like you are going to come out and support Trump, and you jumped at the first chance you could to use some Antifa thugs to throw Donald Trump under the bus,” Hobbs said. “And you’re trash sir, and you will never get my vote.”
A phone message left at Lankford’s office was not returned by deadline Friday.
Hobbs called U.S. Rep. Frank Lukas, another Oklahoma Republican, a “pussy,” and said Democrats are “absolutely disgusting.” An email to a Lukas spokesperson was not returned by deadline Friday.
In the video, he admitted he was fuming and apologized for being so emotional.
Several times, Hobbs mentions the killing of Ashli Babbitt inside the Capitol, calling it an assassination. If she were black, a member of Black Lives Matter or Antifa, Hobbs claimed, “they’d be burning the country down right now.”
It was time to build “fortress Oklahoma” against the overreach of the federal government, Hobbs said.
“Peaceful divorce sounds real good at this point,” Hobbs said. “You just had a presidential election blatantly stolen, and nobody’s doing a damn thing about it.”
Throughout, Hobbs insisted Wednesday was a peaceful protest, and speculated that Antifa was behind any problems, a claim that politifact.com has said is without proof.
“You want to see an uprising,” Hobbs said in the video, “All Donald Trump has to do is call all the veterans in. We’ll take it over. We’ll set this right. But that ain’t what happened today. That was a peaceful protest.”
Hobbs urged other “patriots” to get involved and said that “phony” Republicans all over the nation and especially in Oklahoma are being watched.
“We know who you are,” he said. “You’ve outed yourself, and we’re coming for you. We’re done. We’re fed up. We’re done.”
On Friday, Hobbs clarified that he meant voting them out of office.
He said that during the video, he was upset after hearing about Babbitt being killed and perhaps should have toned down his language.
“Should I have said it as harshly? Maybe not.”
In answers to questions, Hobbs was much more circumspect than in the video. He said there were voting irregularities and that any proof the election was stolen had not been made public.
“If (Trump) has proof, now’s the time to put it out there,” he said.
Hobbs said he respects Trump’s decision announced Thursday to start transferring power to Joe Biden.
Hobbs acknowledged that he is speculating that Antifa was involved and that it is possible some “knuckleheads” caused the damage inside, which he said he wasn’t aware of until after the events.
He said he does not know the circumstances around Babbitt being shot, but if she were breaking the law why couldn’t they just arrest her?
As for his comment about taking over if Trump called for it, Hobbs said that would have to include conclusive evidence that the election were stolen.
“There would be an obligation to set it right,” he said.
Newkirk City Commissioner Joe Anderson on Friday said he was aware of Hobbs’ being in D.C. but had not seen the video. He declined to comment.