America in Turmoil
January 14, 2021
Wednesday, January 6th, 2021, will go down in history as a day when the political atmosphere of the United States changed forever. At 2:15 P.M., rioters penetrated the Capitol building and began to wreak havoc on the US Government. The police seemed to do nothing; some were even seen letting rioters in. Congress was swiftly evacuated, and soon the building was filled with rioters mulling about, some even posing in the seats of Congressional leaders.
What sparked this, how did these people gain access to one of the most secure buildings in the US, and what repercussions will they face because of it? All of these questions we intend to answer.
The issue began at the Washington Monument that morning. Thousands of Trump supporters showed up to hear the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Eric Trump, and Donald Trump himself. The speeches were nothing out of the ordinary for these types of rallies. Giuliani called the votes “crooked,” and even went on to say “…if we’re wrong, we will be made fools of. But if we’re right, [a] lot of them will go to jail. So, let’s have trial by combat.”
Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. gave fiery speeches calling out the Republican party, saying that they “did nothing to stop the steal.” These provocative statements were met by cheers from the crowds of Trump supporters surrounding the Washington Monument. However, things took a turn for the worse when Donald Trump took the stage.
Trump took the stage amid a huge applause. He started out by thanking the audience and calling out the media for not reporting the sheer magnitude of the crowd, saying “Turn your cameras please and show what’s really happening out here, because these people are not going to take it any longer. They’re not going to take it any longer. Go ahead.” Soon, they would turn their cameras, but not for the reason that anybody had expected.
He continued to slander the results of the election, all the while chants of “Fight for Trump, Fight for Trump!” could be heard. He kept the crowd hopeful, saying that he hoped that Mike Pence would do the right thing, and downplayed the difficulty of tipping an election. “All Vice-President Pence has to do is send it back to the States to recertify, and we become president, and you are the happiest people.”
He continued on for close to an hour, at one point encouraging his supporters to “[march] over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard today.”
It’s unclear what Trump actually meant by this. Perhaps he simply meant to protest outside the Capitol, perhaps he meant to protest up and down Pennsylvania Avenue, but, either way, his supporters took this to an extreme.
At around 1 P.M., following Trump’s advice, supporters made their way to the Capitol building. While Trump never called for a breach of the Capitol, far right social media accounts did. Gab and Parler provided instructions on how to avoid police on the way to the Capitol, what tools to use, and how to pry open doors to get inside the building. They encouraged rioters to enter the offices of Nancy Pelosi and other officials, and they also called for violence against Mike Pence. Soon, the rioters were at the front door of the Capitol. Barricades were set up to prevent them from gaining access, but they were quickly breached.
Amid the breach, the Senate continued their two hour debate over the election. Pence was soon escorted out of the chamber by the Secret Service, but Krysten Sinema continued her defense. She finished by quoting John McCain: “Senator McCain was right; today, we have serious, significant work to do, beating the pandemic and reviving our economy. I urge my colleagues to follow the example of Senator McCain and so many others, reject this meritless challenge, and uphold the will of Arizona’s voters.” While she finished her speech, banging on the Senate chamber doors could be heard. Once Sinema finished, the Senate was quickly evacuated.
Buildings in the Capitol were locked down, and congressmen were all safely evacuated from their respective chambers. They were asked to “shelter in place,” lock themselves in their offices, and lock their windows.
During the evacuation, staff members quickly grabbed the electoral vote boxes and took them to safety to prevent the rioters from damaging them. It did not take long for rioters to breach the Senate Chamber, though what they planned on doing seemed uncertain. They began to mill about aimlessly, some taking pedestals, and some even posing in the President Pro Tempore’s seat and the Speaker of the House’s seat.
Things on the House of Representatives’ side, however, went much worse. Secret Service members had barricaded the door to the House in preparation for the rioters, guns drawn. At one point, a shot was fired by a DC police officer at 35 year old Ashli Babbitt who was trying to climb through a barricaded door at the back of the House of Representatives. The officer believed Babbitt to be armed, but this later proved to not be the case. Babbitt died of her injuries shortly thereafter. Protestors outside also forced news crews away from the site and destroyed numerous recording devices they had set up.
While this was unfolding, Trump was active on Twitter. He first posted a video asking his followers to support Capital Law Enforcement. Later on, he tweeted, “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 & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love and in peace. Remember this day forever!”.
Later, members of the Virginia National Guard showed up to help DC police with the rioters. Trump was encouraged to mobilize the DC National Guard but refused to do so. Mike Pence approved the order, and the DC National Guard was sent in.
Once mobilized, the National Guard and police force began to force rioters out of the Capitol building. Many of those who were forced out were arrested by DC Police officers, and those who evaded capture were later tracked down by the FBI.
After the Capitol building had been cleared, Congress reconvened and continued their debate on the legitimacy of the election. Despite opposition from a few Republicans, most of them were shaken by the events of the day. Republicans realized that they had stoked the fire too much, and a blaze would soon rage if they didn’t walk back on their previous promises.
As more information comes forward, this article will be updated.