Commissioner Krystin Arnold took a moment during her first meeting of the Richmond City Commission to address her recent presence at the United State’s Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6., when the federal building was breached by a pro-Trump mob.
On that day, Arnold posted a selfie of herself — unmasked — among the crowd at a Pro-Trump rally in Washington D.C. which was circulated thousands of times on social media.
The photo and her comments on social media has yielded her both criticism and praise.
Arnold's remarks on Tuesday came towards the end of the meeting during the public comment section.
The one submission for public comment at Tuesday night's meeting came from another local news outlet. They questioned why she was there, and if she would step down from her newly-elected seat.
“Why did Krystin Arnold attend last week’s event in Washington D.C. that were attempting to overturn the results of the election?” The comment asked. “The same election, that put her into office as a public official. Will she step down if she has violated her oath of office?”
Richmond Mayor Robert Blythe interjected before Arnold could respond to remind the public of what public comments should consist of, and stated Arnold did not have to answer if she did not want to do so.
“The public comments period is just that — it is a public comment period,” Blythe prefaced. “It is not — let me say this to the board of commissioners just to refresh those that have been around and make sure our new commissioners know — it is not a Q and A session. …. A question of this nature, we do not comment on. However, since it is a question, now I may be stepping into shaky territory here, but Commissioner Arnold you are not obligated — let me say it at this point — to say anything at all and certainly not to address the question.”
Despite the mayor’s statement, Arnold used the moment to address the questions and told the mayor she would be glad to go ahead and respond.
“I have had several questions about my visit to the Capitol,” Arnold began. “On January 6th, I visited Washington D.C. as a private citizen and not as a commissioner in my official capacity. I was not party to any unlawful acts of any kind and I strongly condemn the violence and destruction. Violence is never a solution for differences.”
Arnold stated she had no way of knowing there would be hatred demonstrated against the nation’s Capitol later that day, and added that her presence at the Capitol was an exercise of her First Amendment right as an American citizen.
“I will not apologize for my freedoms, less I stand to lose them,” she said.
She then went on to address the backlash she received upon her return home to Kentucky.
“...There has been an outcry for both support and concern,” she said. “I have heard the citizens, and while I share a difference of opinion with some, I have always respected the rights of individuals.”
Further, she added there had been an “onslaught of attacks that were unwarranted,” when citing the decision to deactivate her social media accounts, which she did Wednesday before her return.
She said she did this to “minimize the efforts of division and hate from local extremists.”
“I have the responsibility to ensure the safety of my child and my family,” she said. “And at this time, I feel that measure was necessary. I do want to be clear that there are citizens that do not agree with my attendance, and still understand my Constitutional right to attend. They, too, are upset, but they have not made threats of harm or violence, nor orchestrated wicked intentions against my family.
“I understand those citizens cannot be held responsible for the outrageous behavior of others. I would encourage the same understanding to be extended to me regarding my visit to the Capitol,” she said.
Arnold went on to say she is resolved to contend for good and true patriotism, and that her opinion would yield fruit of liberty, prosperity and justice.
She thanked everyone who had reached out to her in both concern, and to express their views.
“I respect all of my fellow citizens,” she said. “I strive and pray for unity in the city of Richmond, and that we will be identified as a community of benevolence, strength and servitude.”