ALLENDALE — Last week, MDP and Ottawa County Democrats held a virtual press conference to discuss why Ryan Kelley is thoroughly unqualified to run for governor. Setting himself apart from the many other extremists that are also running is the fact that Kelley was one of the hundreds that descended on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, contributing to the violence that killed five and injured 140 officers in Washington DC.
As has been previously reported, Kelley was seen enthusiastically participating in the insurrection — scaling scaffolding on the Capitol grounds, moving police barricades, and resisting Capitol police’s riot control efforts to keep the mob he was immersed in from breaching the building.
Speaking to the local impact the insurrectionist has had on his community, Kim Nagy and Meegan Zickus walked through Kelley’s lengthy history of extremism — including the armed protests he led against the removal of confederate statues in Allendale.
According to the Holland Sentinel, which covered Thursday’s event, Kelley invited someone “who later was arrested for his role in a plot to kidnap and likely kill Whitmer” to one of these pro-confederacy demonstrations last year, earning him several calls for his removal.
And over the weekend, Kelley once again gained national attention for his insurrection participation, this time from CNN, which noted that he continues “ducking questions about his whereabouts” on January 6th despite footage placing him there and “images showing him deep in the fray of rioters.”
See below for key excerpts and watch the full conversation here.
Kim Nagy, former Ottawa Dems Chair
“This is always about intimidation. It is never about democratic action or process. It’s the same thing that happened with storming the capitol in Lansing. You only showed up with weapons to intimidate legislators. We move then to the insurrection. You showed up with weaponry and were an insurrectionist against the government. Why would we want to turn over the role of government to someone whose first step is to grab a weapon and threaten?”
“Unfortunately, it’s absolutely true that that’s where the Republican Party is right now, particularly in Michigan. […] There’s a sign up right now on the [Lansing] capitol lawn that says ‘Burn the Witch.’ This is continuing — it is not going to stop until elected Republican leaders stand up and say, ‘Enough.’ And we’re not seeing that from our elected representatives. What we’re seeing is perpetuation of the Big Lie and support for people like Ryan Kelley who is an insurrectionist. This is of grave concern to all of us, and we hope that people do take these runs for governor seriously because they are serious. We can’t just say, ‘This is the fringe, we don’t need to pay attention to it.’ We do have to pay attention to it. We are in very dangerous turf here.”
Meegan Zickus, former Allendale School Board and Allendale Planning Commission
“The most appalling part of all of this is the lack of qualification. [Ryan Kelley] has none…no political experience, he’s never held any elected office.”
“Even though we can’t dignify him, we can’t dismiss this bid for governorship. Ryan Kelley is the primary person responsible for inviting various armed militia groups to a township park to…keep a confederate statute.”
“Probably most painfully to sum up Ryan Kelley and this entire experience would be: what are you trying to commemorate when you decide to keep a statue that has a child kneeling at the feet of their oppressor?”