Right wing protesters have invaded the Capitol building following a Trump rally. Four people have died, while officers have been caught taking selfies with rioters
On Wednesday (January 6) the US Capitol was placed under lockdown as thousands of pro-Trump protesters clashed with authorities, and a mob of MAGA supporters forced entry into the building. One person was shot and killed by Capitol security, the Washington Post reports, and another three died after suffering “medical emergencies”. Multiple explosive devices were also found inside the building. Members of Congress were told to take cover and put on gas masks as tear gas was fired inside the building, and senators were led out with a police escort.
Like previous MAGA gatherings – which have brought together Trump supporters, QAnon conspiracy theorists, and alt-right groups such as the Proud Boys – the protest was largely stoked by Trump’s claims of election fraud. Earlier in the day, as Democrats took control of the Senate, the outgoing president told crowds outside the White House: “We will never give up, we will never concede.”
Trump also urged vice president Mike Pence to “do the right thing” and block the formal confirmation of president-elect Joe Biden’s win (a power that he doesn’t actually possess). Around the same time, Pence himself issued a statement to clarify that he lacks the authority to influence the results of the 2020 election.
Predictably, things went south shortly after Trump finished his speech, despite his instructions to march toward Congress “peacefully and patriotically”. Below, we explain what’s been going on, and what’s set to happen next.
PROTESTERS MARCHED FROM TRUMP’S RALLY TO THE CAPITOL
Apparently, Trump promised the crowds of supporters that he’d accompany them on their walk from the White House to the Capitol following his address. Instead, however, he hopped in his motorcade and drove off (much like at November’s ‘Million MAGA March’). From the White House, he proceeded to disown Pence via Twitter, writing: “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution.”
That didn’t stop his supporters from converging on the Capitol, though. The storming of the building that followed has been widely documented on social media: videos of the mob overwhelming police and smashing glass to enter the building, and photos of pro-Trump and Confederate flags being waved inside, as other supporters search vacated desks and laptops.
THE CAPITOL HAS SINCE BEEN DECLARED SECURE
In response to the rioting, Washington mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a citywide curfew, beginning at 6PM, which outlaws gathering on Capitol grounds. Despite initial confusion, the National Guard has also reportedly been activated, while police at the scene fired tear gas into the crowds.
With the Capitol declared secure by the sergeant-at-arms (AKA the executive office of the Senate), lawmakers will return to a count of electoral college votes, which was interrupted by the break-in. Several politicians – and would-be targets for armed right-wing protesters – including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib, have also taken to social media to confirm their safety.
Was barricaded in for several hours. I’ll tell y’all about it later.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2021
For now, we must focus on task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart.
POLICE WERE CAUGHT TAKING SELFIES WITH MAGA SUPPORTERS
As many – including How to Be an Antiracist author Ibram X. Kendi – have pointed out, the response would have looked very different if those storming the Capitol were Black. As it is, a Capitol police officer has been caught snapping a selfie with protesters wearing Trump hats. Not a good look.
Outraged (but unsurprised) commenters have criticised the officer for sympathising with those who broke into the Capitol. Others have explained why they’re not totally shocked, citing one 2016 presidential poll in which 84 per cent of working officers pledged their support for Donald Trump.
WHAT HAVE TRUMP AND BIDEN SAID?
Following the breach of the Capitol building, Trump posted a video statement to Twitter, saying: “We have to have peace, so go home.” However, it’s hard to imagine there’s much conviction behind his words, given that he also failed to properly condemn the rioters, adding: “We love you, you’re very special.”
In a separate tweet, Trump said: “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long.”
Joe Biden, on the other hand, has doubled down on his faith in the American political system. “Our way is plain,” he tweeted. “It is the way of democracy – of lawfulness, and of respect – respect for each other, and for our nation.” In a video, he added: “The world’s watching, and like so many other Americans I am genuinely shocked and saddened that our nation… has come to such a dark moment.”
TRUMP HAS BEEN SUSPENDED FROM SOCIAL MEDIA
Trump’s Twitter account will be locked for a minimum of 12 hours, following the removal of three tweets, which the platform attributes to “the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C.”. The platform has also said it will permanently suspend the president’s account if he continues to violate its rules. Shortly after Twitter took action, Facebook and Instagram banned Trump from posting for 24 hours, closely followed by Snapchat.
There have also been widespread calls to invoke the 25th Amendment, and remove Donald Trump from office with immediate effect.
JOE BIDEN’S WIN HAS BEEN CONFIRMED
Amid the Washington D.C. curfew – and after the Capitol was cleared for use – lawmakers continued the electoral vote count, as announced in a letter from speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the electoral college ballots were returned to the chamber. Addressing the earlier protest, the Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said lawmakers would not be intimidated by “thugs, mobs, or threats”, adding: “This failed attempt to obstruct the Congress, this failed insurrection, only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic.”
Congress has since confirmed Biden’s win, with several senators voting to uphold the result of the electoral college, despite earlier saying they would object. Mitt Romney said that Republicans who continued the rebellion would “forever be seen as being complicit in an unprecedented attack against our democracy”. Then, just hours ago, senator Amy Klobuchar reported: “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be the president and the vice president according to the ballots that have been given to us.” Amid applause, Mike Pence confirmed that Biden had won 306 votes, while Trump received 232. “The announcement of the state of the vote by the president of the senate shall be deemed as sufficient of the election of the president and the vice president,” Pence concluded.
With Trump’s account temporarily blocked, his social media aide Dan Scavino tweeted a statement on his behalf. It read: “Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20. I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!”
This is a developing story and we will continue to provide updates.
Statement by President Donald J. Trump on the Electoral Certification:— Dan Scavino🇺🇸🦅 (@DanScavino) January 7, 2021
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th. I have always said we would continue our...