The U.S. Capitol fell under attack on Wednesday.
Hours after President Trump encouraged supporters to march to the Capitol to protest the certification of last November’s election results, thousands of them did just that. They were met with resistance from Capitol police upon reaching the building, but not long after 2 p.m., they were able to move past authorities and breach the halls of government. Congress, which was in the process of debating the presidential vote certification, abruptly went into recess and the building was locked down.
Lawmakers sheltered in place, preventing them from exercising the will of the American people by a group of violent extremists — egged on by the violent extremist in the White House. The full extent of the breach and any subsequent violence in the Capitol remain unclear, although The Washington Post and other outlets reported that a woman was shot inside the Capitol, and that she was covered in blood as paramedics rushed her out the south end of the building on a gurney. Multiple outlets later reported the woman died.
As the rioting intensified, the entirety of the Washington, D.C. National Guard — 1,100 guardsmen — were activated, the mobilization reportedly coming at the behest of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, who earlier announced the city would be under a 6 p.m. curfew. Elsewhere, law enforcement officials were shown taking a gentler approach with the Trump supporters, particularly relative to their violent treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters this summer. Videos showed policed allowing the mob to move past them and taking selfies with rioters. As afternoon turned to evening, D.C. police had reportedly only made 13 arrests.
The visuals that emerged throughout the afternoon of MAGA-hat-wearing, Confederate-flag-waving Trump supporters pacing through the halls of the Capitol were surreal. It’s the first time the U.S. Capitol has been breached since the British set it on fire during the War of 1812.
They’re in the chamber. One is up on the dais yelling “Trump won that election!” This is insane pic.twitter.com/p6CXhBDSFT
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) January 6, 2021
This is happening pic.twitter.com/MNDC2Nh1Cg
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
Holy shit pic.twitter.com/dofEG2SmqP
— Jim Newell (@jim_newell) January 6, 2021
Notorious Arizona QAnon promoter “Q Shaman” made it to the congressional dais. https://t.co/pik1LXDxeL
— Will Sommer (@willsommer) January 6, 2021
Trump supporters have taken over the Capitol steps, as well.
NBC captured the moment when one set of Capitol steps were stormed. @EllisonBarber reported seeing "a massive amount of what appears to be blood on the ground. At least one person here is being taken away on a stretcher." pic.twitter.com/4qidHddImR
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 6, 2021
Protesters have torn down a barrier. Fireworks going off outside the Capitol. People in a tower telling the crowd to press forward. "Move forward and we can beat them." Throwing things are police. Crowd pushing up chanting USA. This is unreal pic.twitter.com/FDEQu9HyPX
— Andrew Egger (@EggerDC) January 6, 2021
Trump had been promoting the rally that led to the storming of the Capitol for weeks. “Be there! Will be wild!” he tweeted in December. He continued to express his support for the rally in the days leading up to the congressional certification of the election results. “I will be there!” he wrote on Sunday. “Historic day!”
While speaking at the rally earlier on Wednesday, Trump issued a chilling call for his supporters to “fight like hell.”
“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue … and we’re going to the Capitol,” the president continued. “We’re going to try to give our Republicans — the weak ones, because the strong ones don’t need any of our help — we’re going to try to give them the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country. So let’s walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Today's attempted coup in Congress began with Trump saying "If you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore," and then telling the crowd to head to the Capitol to give Republican lawmakers the message. pic.twitter.com/1ABkCku5Vv
— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) January 6, 2021
What unfolded next was predictable, and Trump shares the blame for it, even if he stayed safely in the White House while his supporters were storming the Capitol.
As his supporters were making their way inside Congress, the president opted to bash Vice President Pence for not doing more to overturn the election. Well after it was too late to matter, he issued a pair of tepid directives to support the Capitol police and remain peaceful. He followed with a taped address that asked his supporters to go home while also telling his supporters more lies about his election loss, validating their reasons for storming the Capitol, and telling them he “loved” them.