The planned protests turned into riots after pro-Trump demonstrators stormed the U.S. Capitol. USA TODAY
In shocking televised images broadcast on live TV, thousands of President Donald Trump’s ardent supporters violently stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday, prompting evacuations, injuries and arrests.
Protesters initially gathered at the National Mall earlier in the day to protest the November election results as Congress began counting the Electoral College votes, but the rally turned to rioting after Trump urged his supporters to go to the Capitol.
Rioters wielding “Make America Great Again” hats and Trump flags breached Capitol barricades, smashed windows and scaled the building’s balconies, prompting Vice President Mike Pence to be swept to a secure location and the Senate chamber to be evacuated.
A woman was shot and taken to a hospital during the uprising, where she was later pronounced dead, and there were at least a dozen arrests. How did rioters get into the Capitol? What has Trump said?
Here’s what to know about the the riot on Capitol Hill Wednesday:
Capitol riot: Biden calls ‘insurrection,’ Trump tells mob to ‘go home’
Trump supporters flock to Capitol Hill, protesting Biden election victory (Photo: USA TODAY)
Shots were fired. Is anyone injured?
During confrontations with security, one woman was shot and taken to a hospital, where she was later pronounced dead, according to Alaina Gertz, a spokeswoman for the Washington D.C. police department. Her identity has not been released.
A video posted to Twitter earlier on Wednesday appeared to show a woman inside the Capitol with blood coming out of her mouth, as a man attending to her shouted, “Where is she hit?”
One witness, who identified himself as Thomas from New Jersey, said that after storming into the chambers, police yelled for the mob to get back. He said the woman “didn’t heed the call” as they rushed to the chamber windows. “Then they shot her in the neck,” Thomas said.
How many people have been arrested?
Washington, D.C., police chief Robert J. Contee III said at least 13 people were arrested, and five firearms had been recovered during the pro-Trump protests.
The number of arrests is expected to rise. Police said anyone found on the streets after the 6 p.m. ET curfew would be arrested.
The Capitol was on lockdown. What does that mean?
Shortly after the Trump protestors broke through barricades, U.S. Capitol Police ordered a lockdown — meaning people were not permitted to enter the building while senators and members of the House were locked, sometimes barricaded, inside their respective chambers.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced an overnight curfew for the city, starting at 6 p.m. local time.
The Pentagon said the Washington, D.C., National Guard was mobilized to support local law enforcement.
After being locked down about three and a half hours, the Capitol was declared secure.
How did rioters get into the Capitol?
Only a small group of riot police stood outside the back of the Capitol building in the early afternoon. As demonstrators called for breaching the building, hundreds started swarming into the area, reporters at the scene noted Wednesday.
Protesters began climbing up the side of the building and on the back balcony and police appeared to retreat. After the break-in, police attempted to secure one section outside the building but were quickly overwhelmed, according to reporters at the scene.
Civil rights leaders blasted law enforcement agencies for their slow response to rioters, noting the massive show of police force in place for Black Lives Matter demonstrations last year over police killings of unarmed Black men and women.
Where is Vice President Mike Pence?
Pence, who had been presiding over the count of Electoral College votes, was rushed to a secure location as the Senate went into lockdown.
Pence condemned the protests, vowing those involved “will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building,” Pence tweeted.
I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
What has President Trump said?
Hours after protests in his name turned into riots at the U.S. Capitol building, President Trump issued a 1 minute and 7 second video statement on his Twitter account filmed outside the White House. In the video, he called for the mob to “go home in peace” while saying “we love you, you’re very special.” He repeated multiple inaccurate claims about the election being stolen. The video was removed from YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.
Trump posted another tweet saying, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!.” That was also removed by Twitter.
Twitter soon took the unprecedented step of locking Trump’s account for 12 hours, where he has continued to tweet baseless conspiracies about the election and incite violence.
What has President-elect Joe Biden said?
Biden, who will be inaugurated on Jan. 20, called the rioting at the Capitol “insurrection” and “chaos.” He called on Trump to “step up” and “go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by demanding an end to this siege.””
“What we’re seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it’s disorder, it’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end, now,” Biden said from The Queen theater in Wilmington, Delaware. “I call on this mob to pull back now and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”
Who are the people rioting?
A mob of maskless Trump supporters, many donning patriotic colors and “MAGA” gear, swarmed Capitol Hill following months of Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud.
Trump called the rioters “special people,” and said he and his supporters loved them.
Dozens of pro-Trump protesters remained on the streets of the nation’s capital in defiance of the 6p.m. ET curfew imposed after rioters stormed the Capitol.
Why are they rioting?
Earlier Wednesday, Trump encouraged supporters at a rally near the White House to march to Capitol Hill, where the House and Senate were convened in a joint session to count the electoral votes to formally declare Biden’s victory.
During his campaign-style protest rally, Trump repeated his litany of false claims about the election. Trump has framed the normally routine process of counting Electoral College votes as test of loyalty to him and his substantiated claims.
“We will never give up, we will never concede,” Trump told his supporters at the rally.
The president told the crowd that the election had been “rigged” by “radical democrats” and the “fake news media” and he called on “weak Republicans” to reverse Biden’s victory.
“We’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,” Trump told the crowd. “And we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.”
Where are the Electoral College votes? Are they secure?
When lawmakers were ushered out of the House and Senate chambers to evade a pro-Trump mob that made its way into the U.S. Capitol, staff members made sure to grab the boxes holding the Electoral College certificates the lawmakers were in the middle of counting Wednesday.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., later told CBSN the ballots were taken away so certification could continue in a “secure Capitol location.”
Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley said the Electoral college ballots “would have been burned by the mob” if it weren’t for the quick actions of the Senate’s “capable floor staff.”
Electoral college ballots rescued from the Senate floor. If our capable floor staff hadn’t grabbed them, they would have been burned by the mob. pic.twitter.com/2JCauUIlvg
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 6, 2021
When will Electoral College votes be counted?
A joint session of Congress reconvened Wednesday night to count the Electoral College votes confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
In a letter to House members, Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the violence from supporters of President Donald Trump at the Capitol “a shameful assault” on American democracy that was “anointed at the highest level of government.”
“It cannot, however, deter us from our responsibility to validate the election of Joe Biden,” she said, adding that she’s consulted with House Democratic leaders, the Justice Department and Pence. “We have decided we should proceed tonight at the Capitol once it is cleared for use.”
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