Rioters break into US Capitol building


Photo courtesy of Lev Radin/Pacific Press

Rioters swarm the steps and balcony of the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021.

   Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol building on January 6, 2021, breaking into offices in an attempt to stop the counting and certification of the electoral college ballots. 

   Thousands of protesters gathered in Washington, D.C. in a planned “Save America” rally that took place while the members of Congress were confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win in the electoral college. 

   President Trump, who previously promoted the rally on Twitter, addressed the crowd, saying, “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and Congressmen and women… We will never give up, we will never concede.” In his speech, he continued to promote false theories of election fraud as many of his supporters began to march towards the Capitol building.

   Around 1 pm, the mob reached the building and began knocking down the barriers, pushing past Capitol Police officers, and running up the Capitol’s steps. Rioters then started to bang on doors and break windows, eventually entering the building. At that point, all lawmakers, reporters, and staff in the building were placed on lockdown, with some remaining in the House chamber and others sheltering in their offices. The National Guard was called in to try to stop the insurrection.

   Photos and videos show the rioters, many of whom were armed, carrying Confederate flags through the halls, climbing walls, and attempting to break into the House chamber. One man was pictured sitting in the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, while others were seen rifling through documents that had been left out on desks and tables. 

   Four protesters – two men and two women – died in the riots. 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed by Capitol Police while attempting to enter the Speaker’s Lobby of the Capitol building, and another three people suffered unspecified medical emergencies. Officer Brian Sicknick of Capitol Police was severely injured as he attempted to control the mob, and he died of his injuries the next day. The FBI is currently looking for suspects in his murder. More than 100 arrests have been made in the days since the siege on the Capitol.

   Not long after the protesters broke into the Capitol, Joe Biden delivered a live address, in which he called the violence “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings” and demanded that Trump make a televised address to tell his supporters to stop. Trump instead sent out several tweets, including a prerecorded video where he told the rioters “You’re very special people… I know how you feel.” 

   Trump received heavy criticism from Democratic and Republican lawmakers, as well as other world leaders, for his response to the riots. Many people accused him of inciting violence. He was also banned from Twitter due to the “risk of further incitement of violence.”

   On January 13, the House of Representatives voted to impeach Trump for his role in promoting the insurrection, making him the first president ever to be impeached twice. It is uncertain if the Senate will vote to charge him, which would result in his removal from office less than a week before the end of his term.

   Due to concerns over future violence as Joe Biden’s inauguration approaches, the National Guard has remained in Washington, D.C. and many National Guardsmen even slept on the Capitol building floor as threats of violence continued. 

   The FBI has warned that armed protests are being planned in all 50 state capitals for inauguration day, and Raleigh Police currently are preparing for the possibility of violence at the Capitol building. Barricades have been placed around the building, and Governor Roy Cooper has called in 350 North Carolina National Guard members to help with possible riots. In a statement, he shared that he was sending an additional 200 guardsmen to Washington, D.C, and said that the guardsmen remaining in Raleigh would work to “protect the well-being of residents, property, and the right to peacefully assemble and protest.”