“I didn’t even understand what insurrection meant until recently. I had not heard of any uprising or anything like that. I’m not a part of that.”
NEW ORLEANS (WWL-TV) — Donald Rouse Sr. took to the radio Friday to apologize for attending the “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC that turned into a deadly riot at the US Capitol.
In his first public comments since the Capitol riot, the retired CEO and co-owner of Rouses Markets appeared on WBOK-AM and apologized to his customers, family and employees, saying that they’re paying the price for his poor judgment.
“I love our team members and I’m very sorry for the hardship I’ve caused them,” Rouse said. “I’ll do anything and everything I can to improve conditions for them and just be a better person for everybody. I’ve always, always served African Americans. So, it’s really a sad day for my bad judgment.”
Rouse’s apology comes two weeks after a photo was posted on social media showing him at Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” rally in Washington DC, which later escalated into rioters storming the US Capitol.
That photo spurred calls to boycott Rouses supermarkets.
“I went there because I thought it was going to be a historical time,” Rouse said. “The President was going to make his last speech. I didn’t even understand what insurrection meant until recently. I had not heard of any uprising or anything like that. I’m not a part of that.”
Rouse said he and another former Rouses executive stayed for about three-quarters of the former president’s speech before going back to their hotel room. He said he was gone before the chaos started.
He says when he woke up and turned on the news he was shocked.
Actor Wendell Pierce was on the interview on Friday. He offered a cross examination of sorts.
“So, do you understand how you are complicit in the insurrection? And did you believe this election was stolen?” asked Pierce.
“No sir, I do not believe the election was stolen. I believe Trump was wrong, I believe everything coming out of there was incorrect. As far as being complicit, to me, I would have to have known ahead of time of what was going to take place. I absolutely had no idea. I absolutely got out of Washington as quick as I could,” Rouse said.
Pierce, who is co-owner of WBOK-AM, said he should have denounced the violence at the Capitol sooner.
“Have I waited too long to speak? Probably so,” Rouse said. “But certain consultants advised me to let it cool down before I made a push and apologized.”
Another caller asked why Rouse didn’t leave when he saw Confederate flags and symbols of white supremacy in the crowd.
“There was not a confederate flag anywhere I was. There was not anyone in hoods,” Rouse said. “Absolutely I would’ve gotten out of there if I saw any of that behavior.”
Rouse said he did not go to the rally in support of then-president Trump.
“Had I realized what I was going to be doing, I would not have gone,” Rouse said. “I absolutely would take it back right now if I could.”
In the Facebook post made the day of the rally, reportedly by the former director of human resources of Rouses, he claimed he and Rouse Sr. were with quote “millions of patriots.”
The rally had been promoted as a “Stop the Steal” event, in which the former president would repeat his baseless claims of election fraud and called on the crowd to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.”
Rouse said that he does not believe the election was stolen, and only thought he’d be witnessing the final speech of Trump’s presidency.
Terrebonne Parish NAACP President Jerome Boykin joined Rouse in his appearance to support him and detail his support for the Black community.
“When situations like this happen with anyone, the first thing you want to look at is the guy’s record,” Boykin said. “I want our listening audience to know that Mr. Rouse is a member of the NAACP for over 20 years. Mr. Rouse has been giving scholarships to African American kids in our community.”
Boykin went on to say that Rouses Supermarkets hire more African American employees and work with more African American vendors than other local stores.
“I just want the community to know who this guy truly is,” Boykin said.
Rouse senior says the company will form what he called community committees which he hopes will help “better understand what the community needs.” In the interview, Rouse senior said he didn’t understand what insurrection meant at the time it was happening. There’s little doubt that he does now.