Rochester City Council candidate attended Jan. 6 rally that led to Capitol riot

Sepeda said he never got close to the Capitol building and never saw the rioting within.

Daniel Sepeda.png
Daniel Sepeda, a candidate for Rochester City Council, attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that occurred before the nation’s Capitol building was stormed.
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ROCHESTER, Minn. — Daniel Sepeda, a Rochester City Council candidate, attended the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally that ignited the storming of the nation’s Capitol building in 2021. But he said he was never closer than a block away from the building that was breached by rioters and never participated in any of the disorder and mayhem himself.

Sepeda, a first-time political candidate who is running to represent the Rochester's Ward 1, said he decided to attend the rally with others because he wanted to know what the hubbub was all about.

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“The media was on fire with whether or not the elections had any integrity. I wanted to see what President Trump had to say about all of this,” Sepeda said.

Sepeda said he doesn’t know whether election fraud deprived Trump of a presidential victory, but said the conduct of the 2020 presidential election raised “some legitimate questions.”

“Was the election taken from him? I don’t know that to be a fact. I think the facts aren’t all in, so I just don’t know,” Sepeda said.


Sepeda, 58, is running against incumbent Patrick Keane and candidate Andy Hemenway to represent Ward 1.

Trump said the election was rigged, but election officials, media outlets and members of Trump’s own administration, including former Attorney General Bill Barr, said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud that could have changed the result.

The Capitol breach by rioters caused a 13-hour delay in the certification of electors and an official declaration of Joe Biden as president-elect.

Last week, the U.S. House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol began holding hearings aimed at making the case that Trump was largely to blame for the Capitol riot.

So far, more than 840 people have been arrested in connection with the attack on the Capitol building with charges ranging from obstruction of an official proceeding to assault, according to Time.

Only about a quarter of those arrested - 185 individuals – have received criminal sentences, while the rest are waiting for their trials or haven’t yet reached plea agreements.

Sepeda said he attended the “Rally To Save America” at Freedom Plaza the day before the Jan. 6 riot. He said the rally at the plaza was a daylong affair that was “basically bathing the following day’s events in prayer and music.”

Sepeda said millions – “this is not an exaggeration, literally millions” – attended the rally on the National Mall on Jan. 6, just south of the White House. The Associated Press said there were at least 10,000 people in attendance at the rally by the early afternoon of that day. Law enforcement said the crowd size ahead of the protest was as much as 80,000.


At the rally, Trump said he would “never concede” the race, and that if his supporters didn’t “fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore.”

Sepeda said after the speeches, he joined the crowd in its march toward the Capitol but then peeled away a quarter of the way through and headed to a restaurant for a bite to eat.

An hour and a half later, he and others continued to the Capitol grounds where he saw thousands near the building.

“I couldn’t even get close to it, because there were so many people,” said Sepeda, who estimated being a block away from the building that was engulfed in rioting by Trump supporters. “And as far as the events that were going on inside, I didn’t have internet access. My phone wasn’t working, so I had no idea what was going on.”

He said the day was cold and after being there for 45 minutes or so, he turned and left.

Most news sources have officially counted five deaths including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who died after suffering two strokes, and San Diego resident Ashli Babbit, who was fatally shot by Capitol Police while climbing a barricaded door inside the Capitol.

He said that “some of the stuff” that happened inside the Capitol “should not have happened.”

“There were some lines that were crossed,” said Sepeda, who recalled praying with people while there. “I wasn’t inside, so I didn’t see any of that stuff. I don’t want to defend the negative actions that happened. I think to some degree, it is being blown out of proportion.”


Sepeda said that he took down a Facebook account that included pictures of the Jan. 6 rally but the decision to take down the page was for personal reasons and had nothing to do with Jan. 6.

Sepeda, who works for a health care organization, said he is running on the theme of transparency and, if elected, would vote according to “what the people in Ward 1 want.”

“I think that’s the way it should be done,” he said.

Matthew Stolle has been a Post Bulletin reporter since 2000 and covered many of the beats that make up a newsroom. In his first several years, he covered K-12 education and higher education in Rochester before shifting to politics. He has also been a features writer. Today, Matt jumps from beat to beat, depending on what his editor and the Rochester area are producing in terms of news. Readers can reach Matthew at 507-281-7415 or
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