In a traumatic incident leaving 4 dead, protesters raided the Capitol building as police tried everything to hold them back while congresspeople hid under chairs.
On January 6, 2021, a shocking incident took place when supporters of President Donald Trump breached one of the most iconic American buildings—The Capitol. Chaos reigned after Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that would confirm President-elect Joe Biden's win, according to CNN. At the time, he had said at a rally near the White House to “walk down to the Capitol,” saying that “you will never take back our country with weakness," reported The New York Times.
That afternoon, hundreds of pro-Trump protesters shoved through barriers placed along the perimeter of Capitol Hill, where they fought against officers in full riot gear. Some even called those officers "traitors" for their jobs. Not long after, cops said that the protesters got into the building as doors to the House and Senate were being locked. Images were taken of multiple Senate members hiding under and behind chairs.
There was also an image of a bare-chested Trump supporter sporting a fur hat cheering while he stood in the Senate room.
After a short while, the House floor was evacuated by the police, and among them was Vice President Mike Pence whose role was to count the electoral votes. The situation began escalating until an armed standoff took place at the House' front door, and police authorities had their guns drawn at someone who was trying to breach it.
One woman, who was later identified as Ashli Babbitt, a Californian resident, and Army veteran was shot in the chest and passed away from her injuries, DC police confirmed to CNN. DC Police Chief Robert Contee said, "One adult female and two adult males appear to have suffered from separate medical emergencies, which resulted in their deaths. Any loss of life in the District is tragic and our thoughts are with anyone impacted by their loss," at a news conference the same night.
Though there was a break in the rioting at one point where police were able to push back protesters, fights broke out again after the short reprieve. After police perimeters were breached, the crowd sang the national anthem and banged on the doors chanting, “Let us in! Let us in!” Despite the officials' attempts to turn the mob away using pepper balls and smoke bombs, they were unable to stop them, according to The Washington Post. Finally, 30 minutes before Washington DC's 6 p.m. ET curfew, the state cops gathered in a long line to push the mob back from the grounds. It took until roughly 5:40 P.M. for the building to be secured again, according to the sergeant-at-arms, reported CNN.
By the end of the day, smoke filled the air as the police sprayed tear gas to drive away the protesters. According to US News, President-elect, Joe Biden said, “To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices, and to threaten the safety of duly elected officials is not protest. It is insurrection. The world is watching — and like so many other Americans, I am shocked and saddened that our nation, so long a beacon of light, hope and democracy, has come to such a dark moment."
Former President George W. Bush was appalled by what had taken place. He said, “Laura and I are watching the scenes of mayhem unfolding at the seat of our Nation’s government in disbelief and dismay. It is a sickening and heartbreaking sight. This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic. I am appalled by the reckless behavior of some political leaders since the election and by the lack of respect shown today for our institutions, our traditions, and our law enforcement. The violent assault on the Capitol – and disruption of a Constitutionally-mandated meeting of Congress – was undertaken by people whose passions have been inflamed by falsehoods and false hopes."
Several Republican leaders also expressed their anger at the President's role in this incident and are looking for him to be prosecuted. “I think Donald Trump probably should be brought up on treason for something like this,” Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Calif., told reporters, according to Chicago Tribune. “This is how a coup is started. And this is how democracy dies.” “Count me out,” said Trump-ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “Enough is enough.”