“United States Capitol Hill Under Siege”

Chaos Erupts in the Heart of DC

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Erin Lynch, Staff Writer

On January 6th, 2021, supporters of President Donald Trump took to the Capitol Building to protest against the results of the 2020 election. During this time, Congress was meeting to certify the electoral college votes just as they do every election year. The meeting was put into recess, the building put on lockdown, and the process came to a screeching halt due to some of the protesters breaching the building by breaking down doors and windows. Photos from the day show that there were many people surrounding the building’s perimeter on the Capitol’s steps, within the halls, and even in private offices. Shortly after this, members of the Senate and the House were ordered to take cover in their offices, a safe area, or evacuate the premises. Police officers, the National Guard, and agents from the FBI were deployed to the area to help Capitol Officers control the crowds.

These riots quickly escalated to an extent where a woman was shot inside the building. It is not yet known when she was fired at and who fired at her. She was rushed to a local hospital still alive, but in critical condition and sadly, she died at 6:05 PM that night. Shortly after Fox News reported she had been shot, President-Elect Joe Biden addressed the nation at 4:05 PM. Biden encouraged the mob to back off of the federal building, stating, “Our democracy is under unprecedented attack” and “This needs to stop. Now.” President Donald Trump soon after posted a recorded video that was close to a minute long on his Twitter account at 4:18PM. In the message, Trump said that “We have to have peace” and “We have to have law and order.” Along with this, he encouraged the crowd not to harm the police officers and those who protect us, and told the nation, “I know how you feel but go home and go home in peace.”

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his claims of election fraud.(AP Photo/John Minchillo) (AP)

In the midst of this uncontrolled chaos, Fox News reported that police began to evacuate members of the House and Senate from the Capitol. The officials were told to wear what is called an escape hood. An escape hood is a filtering respiratory device that protected Congress members from the tear gas that was released through the building. While this was going at 4:46 PM the Mayor of Washington D.C. Muriel Bowser held a press conference. Bowser had ordered a curfew beginning at 6 PM and ending at 6 AM. She addressed the crisis at the Capitol and told the public, “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”

After a hectic afternoon, the sun began to set, making the job more difficult for the officers. There were also reports of a suspicious device found around the perimeter of Capitol Hill. The device consisted of pipes and wires but that the device was soon reported not a threat. Finally, at 5:17 PM, things started to calm down. This is when riot police were able to clear all protesters off of the building’s stairs. From the stairs, police, protected with heavy riot gear, were successful in slowly pushing back the large group of protesters off of Capitol Building grounds. The officers then blocked any rioters from entering the premises. At 5:39 PM, America was given a great sense of relief when it was announced that the Capitol Building was reported to be secure. Although the meeting with the Senate and House members was interrupted during the protests, it was announced at 5:46 P.M that they would return to finish certifying the electoral votes. Congress confirmed President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s victory early Thursday morning.

I think that we can all agree that 2020 was a crazy year not only with the Coronavirus but politically as well. This attack on the Capitol shows that 2021 is off to a similar start. The hope is that despite the chaos of January 6th, 2021, together we can improve and build a stronger democracy.