Rouse defends presence at rally, says he left before the violence began

After calls to boycott Louisiana-based Rouses Markets began circulating online Thursday morning, co-owner Donald Rouse Sr. released a statement this afternoon about his experience attending Wednesday’s rally in Washington, D.C., saying he left before “the violence began.”

“I attended the rally yesterday as a supporter of the president and to be in our nation’s capital at the close of his presidency,” says Rouse in the statement. “I left before the violence began and was shocked and saddened to see it unfold on TV. I condemn the actions of those who unlawfully entered and damaged our hallowed institutions and threatened our public servants. Violence and destruction do not represent our country’s values, or the values of Rouses.”

Photos began circulating last night of Rouse among the crowd in Washington, D.C., protesting the presidential election results, prior to a mob rushing the Capitol. The photos were originally posted on Facebook by Steven Galtier, former Rouses HR director, who described the two men as being among “millions of patriots.” 

While Rouse said in the statement that he left the rally before the violence, in comments underneath the photos, Galtier wrote that he and Rouse spoke to a few who “got in” the Capitol building, denying that the ones who broke into the building were “antifa dressed like Patriots. 

Galtier did not respond to requests for comment before this afternoon’s deadline, and removed the Facebook post sometime last night. 

While noting he was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of Rouses, Rouse said he knew his actions reflected on his family, Rouses Markets and the local community. 

“I’m horrified by the violence and destruction we saw yesterday and the pain it has caused so many,” Rouse says. “Our country needs to come together to heal and I will do everything I can to be a part of that process.”