Chaos in the Capitol


Thousands stormed the U.S. Capitol building in support of Donald Trump

Shortly after 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 6, a mob of pro-Trump rioters broke through the perimeters around the Capitol building. Over the course of the afternoon and into the evening, they breached the Capitol building and ran loose inside, at one point getting into an armed standoff with the Capitol police officers inside. 

After a Trump rally earlier in the day where Trump urged his supporters to march on the Capitol, supporters of President Trump stormed the yard and steps of the Capitol building in what, by definition, must be described as a riot. Very soon after the riot started, Vice President Mike Pence was escorted out of the building, however, members of congress were still inside the building.  

At the time, congress was counting the electoral votes, although doing this was primarily ceremonial, as the results of the presidential election had already been confirmed. This process is lead by the vice president.  President Trump had called for Vice President Pence to not count the electoral votes on Twitter. Pence denied, saying “It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the constitution constrains me from claiming … authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”  

Trump supporters rioted in and around the Capitol building. They climbed up onto the balconies, which is illegal for security reasons.  They broke windows and broke down doors.  Several were seen in the Senate chambers after it had been cleared of congress members.  One man was photographed in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, writing “We will not back down” on a manilla envelope and leaving it on her desk.  Members of Congress were given gas masks as law enforcement used tear gas on rioters that had gotten into the Capitol building’s rotunda.  The congress members were also told to sit and lay under desks and chairs in case any of the rioters made it into the house chamber like they had the senate. 

President-elect Joe Biden made a speech to the public, demanding President Trump tell the rioters to go home.  A short while later, President Trump released a video on Twitter saying that the election was fraudulent and stolen from him, and he told his supporters to go home. However, his message didn’t seem to work as the rioters were still at the Capitol several hours later. Many news reporters condemned the President, as although he did tell the rioters to go home, he reinforced the false claims they were rioting against. 

The violence left damage beyond the Capitol building itself. Several law enforcement officers were injured and had to be evacuated from the Capitol. A woman was shot several times in the chest at the riot and rushed to the emergency room in critical condition.  She died later in the day. 

The chaos continued, with some rioters rifling through the desk drawers of the senate chambers.  Some rioters armed with guns got into a standoff with Capitol police in the house of representative’s chambers, the rioters outside the doors, the police inside of the doors.  Members of Congress had been evacuated at this point. 

Amid the insanity, the mayor of Washington D.C. issued a curfew that began at 6 p.m. and ended at 6 a.m.  The rioters were still out and in action after the curfew took effect. At that point, the national guard had arrived and was clearing out the building so Congress could resume counting the electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden as the next president of the United States of America. 

Although Congress members were evacuated from their chambers, they were kept on the premises so that they could reconvene as soon as the building was cleared out. They did reconvene in the evening, although some rioters remained outside the Capitol. 

The afternoon and evening of Jan. 6, 2021 will certainly be remembered by future history textbooks. The riots that took place were the first breach of the U.S. Capitol since the British attacked and burned the building in 1814. The American people are currently living through history, and it is up to us to decide which side of it we want to be on.