After a Democratic alderman and several Democratic groups condemned her attendance of a rally in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, an Annapolis Ward 5 candidate is defending her right to peacefully demonstrate and has denied taking part in a riot that later erupted at the U.S. Capitol.
Hunt Meadow resident Monica Manthey arrived in Washington, D.C., on the morning of Jan. 6 for the “Save America” rally.
Manthey reached The Ellipse just south of the White House, around 8:30 a.m. and waited in the cold as the crowd filled in around her. She listened to speeches from a range of conservative leaders, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and the president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr.
Originally from Seattle, Manthey, a Republican running in her first-ever election, had never attended a rally in D.C. before and wanted to experience one first-hand with a group of like-minded friends, she said. She recalled a positive atmosphere with attendees singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and repeating the Lord’s Prayer.
Then, around noon, then-President Donald Trump stepped to the podium.
For weeks after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden, Trump repeated unfounded claims of election fraud. He did so again in his speech on Jan. 6 and encouraged his supporters to “fight like hell” to “take back our country,” suggesting they walk the one-and-a-half miles to the Capitol. By then, a mob had already breached Capitol Police security lines and were on the building’s steps.
When Trump’s speech ended around 1 p.m., Manthey went back to her hotel, she said, because she was cold and worn out from being on her feet all morning. Two friends who were with her that day said they left with her, too.
On Sunday, Manthey’s opponent, incumbent Democrat Brooks Schandelmeier, and several Democratic groups released statements denouncing Manthey for what they speculated as “actively and proudly participating” in the attack on The Capitol on Jan. 6. The release, also signed by heads of the Anne Arundel and Annapolis Democratic central committees and the District 30 Democratic Club, included screenshots of a since-deleted photo on Manthey’s personal Facebook account — posted on Jan. 6 — that showed crowds of people climbing the Capitol steps waving American flags, Trump banners and hoisting crosses.
Around 2 p.m., a mob broke through doors and windows and stormed into the Capitol to disrupt a joint session of Congress assembled to count the electoral votes to formalize Biden’s victory. The attack resulted in hundreds of injuries, millions of dollars in property damage and five deaths. Four Capitol police officers who defended the building that day have died by suicide in the eight months since the riot.
Asked in an interview about her involvement in the rally that day, Manthey said she was “peacefully and prayerfully assembling with many other Americans exercising my First Amendment rights.”
Manthey denied participating in or being anywhere near the Capitol building that day. She also denied taking the photo on her Facebook. She admitted she was “lathered in the movement,” and decided to post it before later realizing it was a mistake. The photo, which racked up dozens of comments, remained on her Facebook until July when she announced her run for office.
“I assembled on purpose with dear friends and conservative Christians that flew in from Washington State. And they were expressing their support of what they felt was conservativism in America,” she said.
Manthey watched the riot from her hotel room, she said. Two friends who were with her confirmed they were at the hotel together until at least 4 p.m.
“We watched the events unfold on TV, like the rest of the nation,” Manthey said. “And it was horrible.”
“I am so glad I didn’t go to the Capitol, but I have no regrets going to the rally,” she added.
Manthey acknowledged that some attendees believed Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen but said, “that wasn’t my motivation” for her attendance. Several Republican attempts to unearth mass fraud have come up empty in the 11 months since the election.
“Biden is our president,” she said. “It is what it is.”
Schandelmeier said Tuesday: “I’m not saying she was in the building itself. I never claimed that, but she was at an event to try and overturn a free and fair election.”
He also pointed to the fact that Manthey kept her photo up for six months before taking it down. Manthey said she thought she had deleted it earlier and then took a social break after Jan. 6.
“It’s just nonsense to me, the fact this person is trying to now run for office,” Schandelmeier said.
More than 600 people have been charged with crimes related to the riot and arrests have continued since. Manthey has not been charged with any crimes.
Kecia Pettey, Manthey’s close friend and a member of the Annapolis Republican Central Committee representing Ward 8, was with her during the rally and confirmed they left for the hotel after Trump stopped speaking. Pettey called the comments made by Schandelmeier and other Democratic leaders “extremely defamatory” and a “nasty attack against her character.”
“She is one of the strongest, good-hearted people I know. She would do anything for anybody and it makes me so mad because that was uncalled for,” Pettey said. “She did not go down there (to the Capitol). ... If she had known what was going on at the steps — some of the anger — she would have stayed back.”
Manthey attributed the condemnations from Schandelmeier and others as a result of “cancel culture.”
“I chose to be brave and throw my name out in a public forum for the purpose of trying to be a public servant, and in doing so, you are going to open yourself up,” she said.
The Ward 5 candidates will face off in the general election on Nov. 2.