The chief executive officer (CEO) of a Chicago company was arrested for breaching the US Capitol during the violent protests on Wednesday.
Brad Rukstales, CEO of the Chicago-based marketing technology firm Cogensia, was arrested after he entered the US Capitol building during protests held by supporters of US President Donald Trump in Washington D.C.
Violent protests at the Capitol
President Trump’s supporters rallied at statehouses across the US, including the Capitol, to protest against the counting of Electoral College votes.
For months, the outgoing Republican president falsely claimed that there was election fraud. Trump supporters stormed statehouses in Georgia, Washington, Ohio, Michigan, California, Kansas, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, and other states.
President-elect Joe Biden condemned the protests at Capitol and called on President Donald Trump to urge rioters to leave. Biden, who will officially become president on January 20, expressed his dismay at the rioters and asked law enforcement to stop the rally in Washington.
He also urged Trump to make a public announcement asking the rioters to leave the Capitol as soon as possible.
Later, Trump urged Capitol Hill protesters to “go home” through a video on Twitter. However, he did not address demonstrations at state buildings. Still, he repeatedly claims the election was stolen from him.
“I know your pain, I know you’re hurt,” Trump said. “But you have to go home now, we have to have peace. We have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order.”
In another tweet sent later Wednesday, Trump seemed to defend the violence.
“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long,” he wrote. “Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”
Extremely poor judgment
Rukstales apologized for his actions, calling it a “moment of extremely poor judgment.” In a statement on Twitter, he said: “It was the single worst personal decision of my life.”
“Without qualification and as a peaceful and law-abiding citizen, I condemn the violence and destruction that took place in Washington,” he added. “My decision to enter the Capitol was wrong, and I am deeply regretful to have done so.”
According to the Cogensia CEO, he “followed hundreds of others through an open set of doors to the Capitol building to see what was taking place inside” after the rally in Washington.
In response to the news, Schaumburg, Chicago-based Cogensia distanced itself from its CEO and said Rukstales has been placed on leave of absence.
In a LinkedIn statement, the company said: “Mr. Rukstales’ actions were his own; he was not acting on behalf of our company nor do his actions in any way reflect the policies or values of our firm.”
Prior to this, Maryland direct marketing company Navistar terminated an employee who was photographed wearing his company ID inside the Capitol building.
Navistar said: “While we support all employees’ right to peaceful, lawful exercise of free speech, any employee demonstrating dangerous conduct that endangers the health and safety of others will no longer have an employment opportunity with Navistar Direct Marketing.”