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 has been shot (warning: graphic video) and a number of capitol police have been injured. Several improvised explosive devices have also been recovered and appear to be connected with the mob attack. One was discovered on the Capitol grounds while another was safely detonated at Republican National Committee headquarters.
One of the protestors 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 are reportedly en route to the building in an apparent attempt to secure it and the district’s national guard has reportedly been activated after earlier reports that the Department of Defense had blocked requests for help.
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 tonight until 6AM Thursday.