Pro-Trump riots at U.S. Capitol

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Capitol Chaos: With Trump flags and Confederate symbols in hand, Pro-Trump rioters swarm the U.S. Capitol after rallying together and breaching security.

Claire Chien, News Editor

Four deaths and 52 arrests occurred after pro-Trump rioters breached the U.S. Capitol, disrupting Congress as lawmakers counted Electoral College votes to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Jan. 6.

“Many persons came to the District armed for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction and have engaged in violence and destruction,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a statement after declaring a public emergency. 

Rioters first attempted to storm the Capitol building around 1:10 p.m. EST. Pushing past barriers and police lines, the rioters carried Confederate flags and Nazi emblems, spraying police with chemical agents. Lawmakers within the building were given gas masks as police began to deploy tear gas and smoke grenades. The House floor was evacuated shortly after, and an armed standoff between police and rioters occurred at the House front door around 3:00 p.m. 

Shots were fired in the House chamber, and windows were broken in the Senate wing of the Capitol. Several acts of looting and vandalism occurred as rioters stormed the building, causing extensive physical damage. Additionally, multiple pipe bombs and other explosive devices were found and detonated safely throughout the day. Vice President Mike Pence approved the mobilization of the D.C. National Guard to aid local police, but it took until 5:40 p.m. for Capitol grounds to be secured. At least 14 police officers were injured, with one on life support as of Jan. 7. 

Lawmakers reconvened at 8 p.m. to resume counting Electoral College votes and affirmed Biden’s victory the following morning. 

“Today, a shameful assault was made on our democracy,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement to the press. “It was anointed at the highest level of government. It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden.”

Many rioters came directly from President Donald Trump’s “Save America” rally earlier in the day, where he repeated claims of voter fraud in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and told the audience to march to the U.S. Capitol. 

“We fight like hell, and if you don’t fight like hell you’re not going to have a country anymore,” Trump said during the rally. “We are going to the Capitol, and we are going to try and give our Republicans the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

Although Trump later asked his supporters through a live press conference to “remain peaceful” and “go home,” he also told the rioters that they were loved and “very special,” repeatedly making the false claim that the election “was stolen.” In a deleted tweet, Trump further called the rioters “great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated,” and from whom the election had been “viciously stripped away.” This resulted in his ban from both Twitter and Facebook. Facebook executive Guy Rosen explained the company’s reasoning for temporarily banning Trump, stating through Twitter that Trump’s messages “[contribute] to rather than [diminish] the risk of ongoing violence.” 

This is the first time that an insurgent group has taken control of the U.S. Capitol since August 1814, when the British invaded as part of the War of 1812 and famously burned the White House. Rioters also paraded the Confederate Flag through the halls of the Capitol, a feat never accomplished by the Confederate soldiers in the Civil War.

“Just seeing the number of people carrying Nazi and Confederate flags should be enough evidence to say that this protest will be on the wrong side of history,” junior Amanda Carlson said. “I hope this behavior can stop and the country as a whole can become less polarized, because the state we’re in right now is very dangerous.” 

Trump’s presidential term will expire when Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20, but officials in Trump’s administration and over 200 congressional lawmakers have begun informal discussions of removing Trump early through the 25th Amendment as well as renewed articles of Impeachment. 

“What happened here today was an insurrection, incited by the president of the United States,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said. “Those who choose to continue to support his dangerous gambit by objecting to the results of a legitimate, democratic election will forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy.”