Trump Supporters Storm Capitol Building


Joslyn Varkey, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, January 6th, supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, a key government building, launching the entire nation into a state of panic and chaos. This comes after the president encouraged his supporters to fight against Congress’ certification of president-elect Biden’s victory. 

A little bit after 1 PM EST on Wednesday, hundreds of the president’s followers breached the barriers along the perimeter of the Capitol where they then engaged with officers in riot gear. Some referred to the officers as “traitors” for simply performing their duties as law enforcement. After an hour and a half, police reported that the “protestors” had effectively entered the building and that the doors to the House and Senate were in the process of being locked. The House floor was evacuated not long after. Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated by police; he was there to ceremonially count electoral votes. Around three pm another one of the President’s supporters attempted to breach the House floor and police had their guns drawn towards the supporter. Another supporter was pictured standing in the Senate dais. 

As of the writing of this article, only one fatality has been reported. A woman is now dead after being shot in the chest on the grounds of the building. Multiple police officers were injured and at least one was sent to the hospital. On the Senate side of the Capitol, smoke grenades were in use. On the west side of the Senate, windows have been broken and hundreds of officers have been called to the first floor. Around 3:30 PM the Senate was successfully cleared of the rioters and they were grouped towards the Rotunda. They were escorted out of the east and west doors of the Capitol and so far only thirteen arrests have been made.The US Capitol Police were seen pushing rioters off the steps on the east side of the building while working to secure the second floor just before 5 pm. 30 minutes before DC’s 6 pm curfew, Washington police worked to push the mob back from Capitol grounds. The building was reported to being fully secured at around 5:40 pm. 

After the building was breached, legislators were informed by officers that they may need to pursue hiding under their chairs and that rioters were in the Rotunda. Many house members were seen wearing gas masks as they moved between buildings. Congressional leaders were evacuated from the building around 5 pm and were sent to Fort McNair, a close army base. According to Kayleigh McEnany, the President had called in the National Guard. The Department of Defense called in the entire DC National Guard force. According to Jonathan Hoffman, a spokesman for the pentagon, “The DC Guard has been mobilized to provide support to federal law enforcement in the District. Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with Congressional leadership, and Secretary McCarthy has been working with the DC government. The law enforcement response will be lead by the Department of Justice.”

Early Wednesday morning, pipe bombs were found at the RNC headquarters, RNC offices, and in the US Capitol. The one at RNC headquarters was found outside lying along the wall of the building. According to an RNC official, the bomb was safely detonated by police.  Two other suspected pipe bombs (the ones in the RNC officers and Capitol) were declared safe by law enforcement. They were confirmed to be explosive devices and were safely detonated. The DNC was evacuated after the finding of a suspicious package nearby. The building had been closed before the riots but the few remaining personnel and security were evacuated. 

Legislators returned to the building after it was declared secure and resumed their duties – mainly confirming Biden’s win. Proceedings resumed around 8 PM after Pence brought the Senate session back into order. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement saying, “Today a shameful assault was made on our democracy. It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden. To that end, in consultation with Leader Hoyer and Whip Clyburn and after calls to the Pentagon, the Justice Department and the Vice President, we have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use. Leader Homer will be sending out more guidance later today.” On the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election.”

Such a demonstration hasn’t occurred in the US since the British burned the building during the war of 1812, in august of 1814. The riot at the Capitol was met with less police force than the peaceful protests across the country of George Floyd’s unjust death at the hands of police. Just over the summer, federal police attacked protestors in Lafayette Square right outside the White House to clear a path for President Trump to have a photoshoot in front of a church. These federal officers were nowhere in sight as violent rioters made their way into the Capitol building on Wednesday. 

Hours after the incident first began, Trump called upon his followers to “go home.” However, in his one minute video, he spent the majority of the time allotted fabricating lies about his election loss. In a particularly shocking line, Trump tells his supporters to “go home” but then said, “We love you. You are very special.” He then went on to say, “I know you’re in pain, I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election and everyone knows it. Especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace.” Later in the evening, the president went on to praise the rioting mob. “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever!”, he posted in a tweet later deleted by Twitter.