What on Earth Just Happened?

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, following President Donald Trump’s speech in retaliation of the congressional vote to certify the 2020 election results. Three confirmed deaths have been reported from the insurrection and multiple law-enforcement officers were injured.

The Capitol Building promptly went into a shelter-in-place order following the invasion of the Senate floor and members of Congress as well as Vice President Mike Pence were later evacuated to a secure location. The certification process was postponed and later resumed at 8 p.m EST. At such time, House Representatives and Senators were escorted back into the Capitol by armed personnel to continue work.

Earlier in the day around 1:20 p.m. EST on Wed., January 6, 2021, President Donald Trump concluded a speech to a crowd of Trump-supporters claiming fraud in the 2020 election and calling upon his supporters to stand against the election results. The president proudly declared: “You will never take back our country with weakness.” He also encouraged his supporters to “walk down to the Capitol” by his side.

By 1:55 p.m. EST, the Cannon House Office Building and Library of Congress were evacuated due to “police activity,” according to Associated Press. And around 2:20 p.m. EST, the Senate recessed the electoral vote debate due to the breaching of the Capitol building. The building went into lockdown. 

The Capitol Police pushed furniture against doors to the House chamber and there was an armed standoff between Capitol Police and mob members at an entrance to the chamber. Representatives laid on the ground for safety. By 2:45 p.m. legislators were undertaking the evacuation process.

The Trump-supporters climbed up the walls of the Capitol entrance and stormed into the Building, overwhelming the security staff. Rioters pushed past barricades, broke windows and vandalized offices of Congressmen and women. The office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi was heavily damaged during the riot and she was left a folder with the words “we will not back down” written upon it. Other mob members dressed in camouflage and carried Trump and Confederate flags into the Rotunda. Some also vandalized statues. 

Many rioters shouted “Whose Capitol? Our Capitol,” according to NPR reporter Hannah Allam. Trump supporters were also photographed seated in the Senate chamber and roaming the halls of the Capitol, some armed. Many of the rioters wore no masks and showed no regard for COVID-19 guidelines. Law enforcement response to the incident included multiple police forces, the FBI and the National Guard. 

At 11:45 p.m., D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee confirmed three deaths related to medical emergencies from the insurrection. Two men and one woman have been pronounced dead. Ashli Babbit, a 14-year veteran from California, has been identified by her husband. Information about the two men remains limited. Rioters sustained various medical conditions in the events at the Capitol including cardiac arrest and injuries resulting from falling off the scaffolding outside of the Capitol Building. 

At 2:40 p.m. EST Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington D.C. ordered a city-wide curfew from 6 p.m. of Wed., January 6, 2021, to 6 a.m. on Thurs., January 7, 2021, in attempts to disperse the riot. The curfew appeared mildly effective, though masses of Trump-supporters remained on the streets well after the curfew began. 52 people were arrested after the curfew began.

Five guns were seized by police and 13 mob members were arrested outside of the House chamber. Dozens were permitted to go freely. In the Senate chamber, mob members gained access to the gallery and roamed freely throughout the Senate floor. Tear gas was used outside of the building in the Rotunda, but Capitol Police were overwhelmed by the crowd.

In the midst of the violent clash of protestors and law enforcement, Trump tweeted “stay peaceful” to his supporters. A video of the President was also issued stating “Go home. We love you, and you’re very special.” The video also claimed, “We had an election that was stolen from us,” and continued to declare fraud in the 2020 election. Twitter locked Trump’s account today as well.

Vice President Mike Pence denounced the mob and their efforts upon return to the Senate chambers saying, “We condemn the violence that took place here in the strongest possible terms.” He then further displayed his opinion on the matter declaring: “To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win. Violence never wins.”

President-Elect Joe Biden responded to the events stating: “Our democracy is under unprecedented assault,” and, “This is not dissent, it’s disorder.” He referred to the Trump supporters as “a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness.” 

The election certification process resumed at 8 p.m. EST in which the objection to Arizona election results by republican senators was rejected 93-6. In the House of Representatives, the objection also failed 301-121. Biden appears on his way to certification, though after today’s events many fear any developments that may transpire on Inauguration Day.