Massive Crowd Of Trump Supporters Storm Into Capitol Building, Forcing Lockdown In Congress
The unruly pro-Trump crowds clashed with police and forced their way into the Capitol building as Congress met to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Thousands of President Trump’s supporters who descended upon Washington, D.C. for a “Stop The Steal” rally have stormed the U.S. Capitol, breaching the building during clashes with police and forcing Congress to halt electoral proceedings.
The rally, which already escalated to unrest between Trump supporters and D.C. police officers on Tuesday, devolved into pure chaos Wednesday as crowds swarmed the exterior of the Capitol building before forcing their way inside, where Congress was meeting to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
In a speech earlier Wednesday to the supporters on the National Mall, Trump encouraged them to march on the Capitol. The violence prompted officials to put the Capitol on lockdown and Congress to go into recess for their own safety. Protesters then forced their way into the chambers, which had been evacuated.
Vice President Mike Pence was ushered out of the Capitol by authorities, and multiple outlets reported that one person had been shot, though it was not clear who the victim was.
Rep. Dan Kildee said in a tweet that legislators were "instructed to lie down on the floor and put on our gas masks. Chamber security and Capitol Police have their guns drawn as protesters bang on the front door of the chamber."
Video footage shows people pushing through barricades and clashing with police on the Capitol steps as officers and protesters deploy what appears to be pepper spray or gas.
Chaotic video captured on Tuesday night also showed Trump supporters clashing with D.C. police in the Black Lives Matter Plaza.
The pro-Trump crowds have gathered as Congress prepares on Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. The rally potentially joins a long list of COVID-19 “superspreader events” held by Trump supporters — and some hosted by Trump himself, including several maskless gatherings at the White House.
Far-right speakers and some infamous Trump allies spoke during a rally on Tuesday, including the recently-pardoned Roger Stone, and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell. Another speaker, podcast host Clay Clark, encouraged people in the crowd to hug one another, while stating “It's a mass-spreader event! It's a mass-spreader event!”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has reportedly enlisted help from the National Guard in hopes of avoiding similar violence that occured in the city in December. During a pro-Trump rally on December 12, members of the prominent far-right group Proud Boys held rallies in downtown Washington, D.C. to protest the election results. D.C. police arrested the group’s leader, Henry “Enrique” Tarrio, on Monday after he was shown in photos and video lighting a church’s Black Lives Matter banner on fire during the December rally.
Bowser tweeted on Monday for D.C. residents to avoid rally goers “who come to our city seeking confrontation.”
“I am asking Washingtonians and those who live in the region to stay out of the downtown area on Tuesday and Wednesday and not to engage with demonstrators who come to our city seeking confrontation, and we will do what we must to ensure all who attend remain peaceful,” Bowser said.
Trump himself appeared at the rally, though his microphone was not working when he first spoke at the podium.
He later bragged about the crowd size, said “third-world countries” have “more honest” elections, and said he will “never concede.”
Although Biden secured a large majority of the country’s electoral votes and many prominent political figures have urged Trump to concede, the president has repeatedly lied about how the election was “stolen” from him due to voter fraud, though no evidence has been uncovered to support it (and more than 90 federal and state judges have ruled against challenges to the election.)
Several current and incoming Senate Republicans plan to reject “electors from disputed states” during Electoral College counting on Wednesday — a move that many have pointed out would only delay Biden’s clear win. The senators’ plan has received criticism from Democrats as well as other Republican lawmakers.