KS state legislator braces for increased security a
head following Capitol riot





Ruiz: “It’s a scary time to be an American”





Kansas State Rep. Louis Ruiz



BY JOE ARCE AND COREY CRABLE


Like political leaders in every state, Kansas State Rep. Louis Ruiz and his staff spent days preparing for the possibility of more demonstrations and violence ahead of the Jan. 20 Biden-Harris inauguration.


Ruiz, a Democrat and currently in his 17th term in the Kansas Statehouse, says he had several conversations with his staffers following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. And as online chatter grew in the following days about possible demonstrations and riots at the Capitol buildings in each of the 50 states, Ruiz says he took his communication with his staff even more seriously.


“I’ve addressed this with our staff members, told them to wear ID badges,” says Ruiz, who serves the state’s 31st District, which includes the southeast part of Kansas City, Kan. “We all have to be concerned for our safety, and so do our colleagues.”


He adds that the Capitol building in Topeka increased its security measures, including bringing in State Patrol officers and asking the National Guard to be on standby. As of last week, no visitors have been allowed in the building unless they have proof of an appointment with a legislator.


The increased security and sense of unease everywhere can be traced back to radicalized supporters of Donald Trump, Ruiz says.


“When Trump won the election (in 2016), people I talked to… we saw this coming because of his personality and the cult-like following he has. This has been a concern for us for years,” Ruiz says. “A lot of people have flown off the handle to support Trump, and they still believe the election was rigged. That’s the scary part.”


Those followers can even be found within the ranks of the U.S. Congress itself, among them Trump followers such as Sen. Roger Marshall (R-KS) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO). Both men voted against the certification of the 2020 election results naming Biden as the next president.


“It makes me angry,” Ruiz says. “How could they subvert the Constitution of the United States and violate the oath they just took? They value Trump more than the Constitution. Voters should be irate about that. … That’s scary. These people are members of a cult. What does that tell you about the states of Kansas and Missouri? It’s a scary time to be an American.”


Another issue important to Ruiz is the theory that Capitol police officers and members of Congress themselves could have helped the insurrectionists gain access to the building. If the security of a structure like the Capitol building could be compromised by people from within, it could happen anywhere, he notes.


“Since I’ve been in the U.S. Capitol building, I took the violence personally. You never say never,” Ruiz says. “That’s supposed to be the most secure place in the country, and look what happened. Now you have Republicans and QAnon legislators being investigated after giving personal tours.”


Ruiz says he believes politicians like Marshall and Hawley have violated their oath of office, adding that several legislators in Topeka are discussing the drafting of a resolution to condemn the politicians who voted against the certification of the election results.


“I take my oath very seriously, just like a vow of marriage,” he says. “You take that in front of the public. I represent almost 43,000 people, and if I subvert my oath, I am accountable to them.”


The FBI’s investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection and those behind it is ongoing.


The COVID-19 pandemic, Ruiz says, has even more legislators on edge, meaning those at the highest levels of state and federal government have dual threats to their ability to work for the people they serve.


“We’ve had legislators (in the Kansas state house) who have become sick. We just had a legislator whose husband died last week of COVID,” Ruiz explains.


He adds that fervent followers of the former president, along with their conspiracy theories about the virus, only makes a bad situation worse.


“Trumpists are the anti-maskers,” Ruiz says. “We not only have to be concerned about violence, but also about the virus.”