KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Jan. 6, Cliff Meteer joined thousands of others at the Capitol building to protest what he believed to be a stolen 2020 presidential election.
That protest resulted in several deaths, more than 100 injured officers and damaged property. But Meteer’s account is much different from the events that played out on live television that day.
“Inside the Capitol building, it was a peaceful process. I never saw anything that constituted any kind of riot,” Meteer said.
Video from that day shows people breaking windows, climbing up the walls of the building and pushing their way inside.
“We weren’t being afforded our natural rights. We weren’t being afforded to present our case in front of a court of law or a jury of our peers to determine whether or not our suspicions were correct or wrong,” Meteer said.
“You know, I mean, our rights were stolen from us.”
Tips from relatives and old friends on Facebook eventually led FBI agents to Meteer’s home in North Knoxville, which he shares with girlfriend Holly Houssner.
“There was a bunch of just FBI guys and I’m looking around saying ‘Oh my God. This is all because he was in the Capitol on January 6?'” Houssner said of the scene.
She and Meteer claimed he was nonviolent, and believe his arrest was unnecessary.
“It was a protest and it got a little out of hand but to actually find all these people on Facebook or whatever to go and then come to your house and raid like I’m some kind of mass murderer or something? This is insanity,” Houssner said.
Meteer was arrested, then released. He waived all preliminary readings in federal court Tuesday in Knoxville. He is scheduled to appear Aug. 17 in federal court in Washington, D.C.
“I was there for myself and my own reasons. There was no coordination with anybody or anything,” Meteer said. “Just my obligation as an American citizen to protest what I see as a great wrong being done on the people of the United States.”
When asked if he regretted anything from that day, Meteer said he did not.