Pro-Trump protesters have stormed the US Capitol building, effectively halting a vote to certify the results of the 2020 election. The Capitol is currently on lockdown, and lawmakers from both chambers have been evacuated as the mob has breached both congressional chambers and voting floors. Tear gas has reportedly been deployed in the rotunda in an effort to secure the building.
At least one person was shot during the incident (warning: graphic video) and news reports confirm that she later died from her injuries. Improvised explosive devices were also recovered from both major party headquarters and from the grounds of the Capitol itself. One of the protesters who breached the Senate floor has been identified as a prominent promoter of the QAnon conspiracy by Daily Beast reporter Will Sommer, who covers the group closely.
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
They’re shooting into the chamber. pic.twitter.com/l9owW7BAVt— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 6, 2021
Smoke pouring out of area by House chamber pic.twitter.com/zOwf5UZ0KY— John Bresnahan (@bresreports) January 6, 2021
More law enforcement officers were dispatched to the building in the wake of the attack, and the District of Columbia national guard was reportedly activated after earlier reports that the Department of Defense had blocked requests for help. Officials reported that they had regained control of the building shortly before 6PM ET.
Protesters first gathered this week for an extended rally protesting efforts to certify the Electoral College tally for the 2020 presidential election. President Donald Trump spoke at the rally earlier today, encouraging attendees to resist congressional proceedings.
“All of us here today do not want to see our election victory stolen by emboldened radical left Democrats which is what they are doing,” Trump told the crowd. “That’s what they’ve done and what they’re doing. We will never give up, we will never concede.”
After protesters stormed the Capitol, Trump tweeted out a more conciliatory message: “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Aside from its political implications, the incident represents a catastrophic and unprecedented breach in congressional security. Typically, visitors to the US Capitol are extensively screened by Capitol Police for weapons and other potentially dangerous materials. The breakdown in security means none of the protesters have been through such screening, and it’s unclear whether any are armed.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has declared a citywide curfew from 6PM Wednesday night until 6AM Thursday morning.