Jay Edwards

Jay Edwards during a House session in 2017. Photo courtesy of The Ohio House of Representatives.

Ohio House Rep. Jay Edwards, R-Nelsonville, shared unfounded sentiments on Facebook on Wednesday that blamed the unorganized militant group antifa for portions of the violence seen in and around the U.S. Capitol.

Edwards has not responded to numerous requests for comment via phone and text from The Athens Messenger or Athens NEWS, but did comment on the incident on Facebook on Wednesday evening and throughout the week.

There is no evidence to support the claim that any significant portion of the group responsible for obstructing the certification of President-elect Joe Biden were members of antifa disguised as pro-Trump supporters.

Members of the group wore nationalist and pro-Trump attire, and multiple participants were identified through their own admission to news outlets that they were Trump supporters.

On Facebook, he declared without evidence that “some were antifa” among the violent mob that led to the death of four participants and a Capitol Hill police officer.

Edwards did not respond to The Athens Messenger’s multiple requests for evidence to support this declarative claim.

There is evidence, however, of multiple prominent right-wing social media personalities partaking in the riotous mob that stormed the U.S. Senate chambers.

Among those who participated was Jake Angeli, Arizona resident and “Q Shaman,” a noted and prominent online advocate of the QAnon conspiracy, Business Insider reported.

Angeli was the rioter in the horned hat and face-paint who posed for photos at the rostrum of the U.S. Senate Chambers.

He has since told multiple media organizations that he is not a member of antifa and resents being labeled so. He is frequently photographed at pro-Trump/QAnon rallies.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida, said during his speech on Wednesday that he had seen a report from The Washington Times, a conservative news site, which claimed a facial recognition company had evidence that confirmed members of antifa were responsible for the unlawful violence at The Capitol.

The article in question has been amended repeatedly since publication, and The Washington Times has apologized to the facial recognition company for falsely stating members of antifa were recognized by its software.

“An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that XRVision facial recognition software identified Antifa (sic) members among rioters who stormed the Capitol Wednesday,” the correction reads. “XRVision did not identify any Antifa members. The Washington Times apologizes to XRVision for the error.”

The article now notes the facial recognition software company had instead confirmed the presence of “neo-nazis” from among participants.

Even President Trump acknowledged that the people who supported him — not antifa militants — had invaded the Capitol. At one point on Wednesday he told the mob that “we love you.”

On Facebook, Edwards responded to criticism for comparing the prior and sometimes-violent actions of Black Lives Matter protest members to the actions of the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol after Trump urged the crowd “to do something” about the Electoral College certification.

Issa Arrian, an Ohio University graduate and former member of Edwards’ OU football team, commented on a video Edwards shared comparing civil unrest in Minneapolis to the Capitol that “one is CVS, the other is The United States Capital (sic).”

Edwards responded, saying he believes in the importance of local government.

“I also think Government buildings are paid for on the backs of people that work at CVS and businesses, both big and small,” Edwards wrote. “Holding Government buildings to a higher standard than the mom and pop business that pays for the Government building is part of the problem. However, there are many more articles of Government property being destroyed over the last 6 months.”

The Athens Messenger sought further comment regarding this interaction from Edwards, but he did not respond to inquiries by publication time.

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