EASTHAM — Nathan “Nick” Nickerson III doesn’t regret going to the “rally” on Jan. 6 that turned into a violent storming of the U.S. Capitol, but he does wish that he never spoke to syndicated radio talk-show host Howie Carr about it that afternoon.
Nickerson described to Carr what he did that day as “fun,” with people singing patriotic songs. His words ignited a backlash on Facebook “that was swift and harsh,” said Deborah Abbott, the administrator of Facebook’s Eastham Community Space.
Nickerson, 70, who has owned Arnold’s Lobster & Clam Bar for decades, has said in a written apology posted on Facebook, and in another on-air interview on Jan. 11 on Ed Lambert’s WXTK radio talk show, that when he spoke with Carr, he had no idea the protest had become a riot that left at least five people dead, including a Capitol police officer, with scores now facing arrest.
The purpose of the crowd’s presence that day was to “stop the steal” — to prevent Congress from ratifying the votes of the Electoral College, after weeks of recounts, verifications, and suits rejected by the courts. In other words, they were there to keep Trump in office, based on blatantly false claims that the election was “stolen” from him.
Nickerson told Lambert that he was cold and hungry and wanted to go back to his hotel room after listening to Trump at the Ellipse, but he went to the Capitol because a friend of his wanted to go.
“We made it up to within 50 feet of that little concrete fence that I spoke about on Howie Carr,” Nickerson told Lambert. “I believe everywhere I went was everywhere I was meant to be. And I did not go to that horrendous riot.”
He said that, after spending time at the Capitol, he returned to his hotel room and spoke to Carr. “I was in a good mood, people were really happy, they were there with their dogs. And then I found out about the terrible news,” he said, adding, “As far I’m concerned, the rioters are scum. I denounce them with every fiber of my body.”
Yet these statements do not jibe with what Nickerson actually said to Carr. Nickerson declined to comment for the Independent.
“We were walking very close to what you call the front lines,” he told Carr. “And people were going over the wall and getting into areas where they preferred you not to go.… They were just climbing over by the dozen.… Eventually, [the police] came in force, and they were ready for battle. They had all the gear, you know, riot gear, the whole nine yards.”
He told Carr he wanted to make clear he and his friend did not breach the walls and he never saw anyone go into the building.
After the Carr interview, Nickerson posted an apology on the Eastham Community Space, which read, in part, “I would like my friends in Eastham to know I was at the Trump rally in Washington D.C. today to support Donald Trump for president. I am not particularly fond of him personally but I am extremely worried about the direction the country is heading in.”
Reactions were quickly posted, with links to the Carr interview. Nickerson removed his apology after about an hour and a half. But, said Abbott, screen shots of his post took on a life of their own. A photograph of a younger man wearing a “Civil War” T-shirt at the rally was erroneously identified as Nickerson, Abbott said.
On Wednesday, Jan. 6 and Monday, Jan. 11, Facebook removed three Eastham Community Space posts related to Nickerson because they violated community standards for harassment and bullying, Abbott said.
“Enough is enough,” Abbott said Monday. “It’s been five days. Social media really does bring out the worst in people. People are very judgmental.”
Nickerson told Lambert on Jan. 11 that he will fight back against those who have attacked him. He particularly called out the group Cape Cod Women for Change, whose administrator is listed as Indivisible Cape Cod, a group that supports progressive activism.
“The hate mail is desperate,” Nickerson said. “It’s hurting my wife of two weeks, and my sweet daughter has been crying all weekend.
“But it’s going to stop,” he continued. “I have a lawyer and a friend who is a private detective and we’re going to find them and I’m going to sue them for defamation.”
Laurie Veninger, administrator of Indivisible Outer Cape, said she is not a legal scholar, but “[Nickerson] shouldn’t go on the radio or make a Facebook post if he doesn’t want people to be aware of [his participation].”
The administrator for Cape Cod Women for Change could not be reached or identified. But she posted on the group’s website after the Lambert show: “The groups who participated in this went too far. If they are local business owners, locals can decide if they want to support those businesses.”