Martin Dartoe, formerly of Tunkhannock, and a candidate for Luzerne County Council, says he climbed a wall outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to get a better view of what was happening as a peaceful protest turned into chaos that shook the nation.
Dartoe, 31, says he did not set foot inside the Capitol and does not support acts of violence, though he understands the people who acted out were “fed up” with their government.
Dartoe, who lives in Wilkes-Barre, took a charter bus to Washington, D.C., on the day the U.S. Congress counted the Electoral College votes that certified Joe Biden as the nation’s next president.
He said he planned to take part in a peaceful rally outside the Capitol.
Some people in the large crowd had other ideas, Dartoe said on Thursday, Jan. 14.
“A group among us took it to an extreme,” he said.
As those protesters barged into the Capitol, leading to a chaotic scene that drew worldwide attention as members of Congress fled for safety, Dartoe decided to find a better viewpoint, he said.
Dartoe, a former wrestler at King’s College, said he scaled a wall near the Capitol that has been widely shown in news footage the past week.
From there, he saw people force their way into the Capitol, he said.
Dartoe said he never planned to enter the Capitol. He said he spoke with another peaceful protester as they watched the action escalate nearby.
“While everyone else was releasing their anger I was building relationships,” Dartoe said.
A message Dartoe posted to his Facebook page on Jan. 6 said there would be “a lot of bloodshed” that day.
On Jan. 14, he said that post referenced what would inevitably happen when large groups of people who felt deeply they had been wronged gathered together in one spot.
“I am against violence,” Dartoe said. “I am against the destruction. I went there for a peaceful protest.”
Dartoe said no one from the group he traveled with entered the Capitol, as far as he knows. However, he noted there were five busloads of people in the group.
Republican activist Frank Scavo, of Old Forge, organized the bus trip. Photographs taken at the scene appear to show Scavo inside the Capitol on Jan. 6, though he told The Scranton Times-Tribune he did not enter the building.
Dartoe ran unsuccessfully for county council as a Democrat in 2019. This year he plans to run as a Republican, he said.
During his campaign for council two years ago, Dartoe made news when he was charged with DUI and, in a separate incident, cited for public drunkenness by Wilkes-Barre police.