First-hand account from a Loveland woman who was there
By Chuck Gibson
LOVELAND, OH (January 11, 2021) – Dawn Funk saw and heard President Donald Trump speak at the The Ellipse near the White House Wednesday, January 6, 2021. She is a wife, mother, and entrepreneurial business owner living in Loveland.
Funk was witness to the storming of the Capitol Building. She traveled there with her 16 year-old son Blake, and her sister Tracy Schaeper. Her only previous experience attending a political rally came just after Donald Trump was elected and a friend convinced her to attend a rally in Washington D.C. She is not an activist.
“I ended up, at the last-minute, deciding to go with her,” said Funk. “It was so moving; it was such an incredible experience just to be around so many ‘Patriots’ that absolutely love our country.”
Funk talked about her love of Washington, D.C. and love of history as a former teacher and College Professor.
“Just being there, people were singing songs and peacefully marching down to the Supreme Court building,” Funk explained. “It was a wonderful experience.”
When she heard about the event planned for Wednesday, January 6, she wanted her son and her sister to share that same wonderful experience. Funk loves to show her support for others always giving whether for her own family, business partners, community, or the President of the United States.
“I just really felt like it was important to show up for the President I really admire,” she continued, “and just be a person in the crowd he could see that really appreciated and was grateful for the service he’s done for our country the last four years.”
Dawn Funk was there to show her support and appreciation for President Donald Trump. She expected to see and hear President Trump at a peaceful gathering of supporters. Did she expect a violent storming of the Capitol?
“Absolutely not,” Funk stated emphatically! “If I would have thought that violence was going to be a part of it, I would not have gone. I just felt very patriotic. I would have never gone if I thought it would be anything that would be violent. I’m just not someone who would put my kids or myself in a situation where violence was a high possibility.”
The day started out pretty much as she expected. So, what happened? What was Dawn Funk’s personal experience?
“It was amazing,” Funk said. “Just to be in the city and see so many other Trump supporters showing their colors for our country; Red, White & Blue everywhere. I love that environment.”
The morning started with Blake and his aunt Tracy getting a little breakfast. Dawn met up with another couple friends from Wisconsin. They made the walk over to The Ellipse. Funk says it took them hours to get into the event there, finally getting through security just as President Trump came out to speak. She believes the event was understaffed with “very few Secret Service people” and security people.
“His whole speech was awesome,” she said. “It was just typical of him. We were pleasantly surprised at how long he spoke. He spoke over an hour.”
Funk may even have video right at the end when he told the crowd they were going to walk, or march down to the Capitol.
“I can’t remember if he said march or walk, ‘we’re going to walk down to the Capitol building’,” Funk recalled. “You know it was never presented as we’re gonna go raise hell, nothing like that.”
Her perspective at the time was it would be peaceful just like her past experience.
“I decided okay, this is what we’re going to do just like we did the last time,” said Funk. “We’re gonna walk down in peace, sing songs, and again just be a presence that we are fighting for the democracy and free and fair voting in our country.”
Massive is how she described the size of the crowd before offering a number estimate of half a million – maybe more. Funk was surprised because she knew people who backed out due to warnings hotels and restaurants would be closed and there would be no restrooms. News video supports estimates of half a million people gathered there.
Once they began walking, there were two routes, two main streets with people choosing to go on one or the other. Funk happened to choose the one which fed right into the Capitol building. The road seemed less crowded, plenty of room she believes because people chose the other road.
“There were people pushing baby strollers,” said Funk. “There were elderly people in wheelchairs. There were people of all nationalities; a lot of African-Americans, a lot of people from different cultural backgrounds. There were a lot of Asian and Mexican people there showing their support. I thought that was really inspiring; a collection of different types of backgrounds.”
Funk walked with her son, her sister, friends and a virtual melting pot of people from all walks of life as the massive crowd moved toward the Capitol. For them, it was a peaceful walk to the grounds of the Capitol building.
“We made our way up pretty far on the Capitol grounds,” Funk said. “We did see some fencing and barricades pushed off to the side.”
Funk found that interesting, but didn’t think much about it at the time. Only later, after seeing news reports, did she realize what she had seen. She saw people everywhere on the lawn of the Capitol building. It remained “super peaceful” to her at the time. She met many people wearing clothing indicating the branch of service they had served in the military. They proudly displayed Marines, Army and others.
“It was like, I don’t want to say party, but that’s what if felt like, a big picnic,” she said. “Everyone was just hanging out and making new friends.”
Within an hour she began to see signs of potential misbehavior by some of the crowd. Things changed from that “awesome” picnic-like experience.
“We just started noticing there were people going beyond where they should have been,” said Funk. “Like on the upper level steps of the Capitol building, we started to see people going up there.”
People had started to climb on scaffolding to the right of those steps. She was concerned about a possible collapse of the scaffolding. Funk heard some kind of shots going off and saw smoke. A man actually went past them with watering eyes, in “pretty bad shape” hardly able to walk.
“That’s when we realized tear gas was being shot off,” Funk explained. “We were like Oh, my gosh, what’s happening? This is crazy.”
At the same time she was thinking those people were going where they shouldn’t. She could see people going past Secret Service or security personnel beyond barriers. Why were people doing that she wondered at the time.
“We noticed more and more people were doing it,” said Funk. “At that point I heard gun shots. I told my sister that was not the tear gas. That was a gun shot. At that point we thought maybe we should head back to the hotel.”
Their cell phones were dead. Funk did not know people were actually storming the Capitol building. They decided to go back to the hotel and get on the road home. They were confronted by a group of Antifa people with a huge banner.
“It said ‘Punch MAGA in the Face’,” said Funk. “There were whites and blacks; they were on bicycles in addition to being behind this huge banner. They were coming up to people, including us, screaming obscenities; get out of our city and just horrible things. It was kind of freaky.”
It was not one organized group, but several random smaller groups who approached Funk and others saying rude things. This time she was able to mix in with another group of people who turned out to be police officers from Florida.
“That was like a God-thing,” Funk said. “We were really nervous just walking back to our hotel.”
Once safely inside their hotel, their cell phones “blew up” with messages of concern for their safety. That was the first time they knew what happened at the Capitol. We know people stormed the Capitol, breached the building, violence erupted and people died.
Media reports confirm the deaths of five people during the storming of the Capitol building and the “riot” which ensued. Widely reported information tells us a Capitol Police officer died from injuries and a female Air Force veteran, President Trump supporter, was fatally shot by Capitol Police. Three others died in separate “medical emergencies” during the assault on the Capitol.
“We had no idea Chuck that people had actually gotten into the building,” Funk explained. “I had no idea. I heard the gun shot, but I didn’t know someone had really been shot to the point they ended up dying. It is awful. I had no idea about any of that stuff.”
Dawn Funk traveled to Washington D.C. with her son Blake and her sister Tracy to show support and appreciation for President Trump. She hoped it would be a wonderful experience for Blake and Tracy. The violence and chaos hurts her.
“It just breaks the heart,” said Funk. “You know 99.99 percent of the people who were there just wanted to show our love and our support of our former President.”
Funk wanted to be a presence, a voice to say we, the people, are not okay with unanswered questions about a free and fair election. Her intent was to deliver that message in a “peaceful and polite” manner. She is frustrated with the way people are treating each other. She sees too much hatred among people that unfortunately has major consequences. Dawn Funk has a message for all of us.
“My message is everything starts at home,” Funk said. “Everything starts with you. I think if more and more people would just focus on looking at other perspectives, having a sense of unity and kindness. We are not going to win being divided. We’re not going to win judging each other. We’re only going to win if we can come to common ground and be respectful and kind to each other. As citizens of this country, just be kind.”