South Asian Insider
Opinion and Editorial
U.S. Capitol Under Siege - Attack on Washington D.C.
WASHINGTON D.C. Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in a chaotic protest Wednesday aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power. Four deaths were reported on or around the U.S. Capitol grounds.
The nation's elected representatives scrambled to crouch under desks and don gas masks while police futilely tried to barricade the building, one of the most jarring scenes ever to unfold in a seat of American political power. A woman was shot and killed inside the Capitol, and D.C.'s mayor instituted a 12-hour curfew starting at 6 p.m. in an attempt to contain the violence.
Congress reconvened at night, with lawmakers decrying rioters who defaced the Capitol and vowing to finish confirming the Electoral College vote for Joe Biden's election, even if it took all night.
Before dawn Thursday, lawmakers completed their work, confirming Biden won.
Vice President Mike Pence, presiding over the joint session, announced the tally, 306-232.
Trump, who had steadfastly refused to concede the election, said in a statement immediately after the vote that there "will be an orderly transition" of power on Inauguration Day.
"Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th," Trump said in a statement posted to Twitter by an aide.
Pence had reopened the Senate after the harrowing day and directly addressed the demonstrators: "You did not win."
A woman died after being shot by U.S. Capitol Police as the mob tried to break through a barricaded door in the Capitol where police were armed on the other side. Additionally, a woman and two men died after suffering medical emergencies around the Capitol grounds, Metropolitan Police Department Acting Chief Robert Contee said. The causes of death of the three people who suffered medical emergencies will be determined by the Office of the Medical Examiner. D.C. Fire and EMS transported 10 other people with injuries. Fourteen D.C. police officers also were injured, police said.
The woman who was shot was identified as Ashli Babbitt of San Diego.
"Ashli was both loyal as well as extremely passionate about what she believed in," her family said in a statement. "She loved this country and felt honored to have served in our Armed Forces. Please keep her family in your thoughts and respect their privacy during this time."
Rosanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia; Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; and Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania, each died after suffering medical emergencies, D.C. police said.
As of 10:30 p.m., D.C. police reported 47 arrests for curfew violation. Five others were arrested for weapons violations.
Police said they recovered and destroyed two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. They also found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended a public emergency declared earlier Wednesday for 15 days.
"Many persons came to the District armed and for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction and have engaged in violence and destruction," a statement from the mayor's office said.Trump issued a restrained call for peace but did not call on his supporters to leave.
The Senate reconvened after 8 p.m. and Pence condemned the violence.
"To those who wreaked havoc in our Capitol today, you did not win," he said. "Violence never wins. Freedom wins, and this is still the people's house. As we reconvene in this chamber, the world will again witness the resilience and strength of our democracy."
There were heavily armed officers from the Capitol Police and Secret Service near the Senate floor, including a counter-assault team.
A man was stabbed outside the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, D.C. police said. He was taken to a hospital. No one was immediately arrested.
Rioters used chemical irritants on police in order to gain access to the Capitol grounds - D.C.'s police chief said - broke glass and waved Trump flags.
Authorities eventually regained control as night fell.
Heavily armed officers brought in as reinforcements started using tear gas in a coordinated effort to get people moving toward the door, then combed the halls for stragglers, pushing the mob farther out onto the plaza and lawn, in clouds of tear gas and smoke from flash-bangs and percussion grenades.
Video footage also showed officers letting people calmly walk out the doors of the Capitol despite the rioting and vandalism. Officials declared the U.S. Capitol complex secure at nearly 6 p.m. after heavily armed police moved to end a violent, nearly four-hour occupation. An announcement rang out inside a secure location for officials of the House. Lawmakers applauded.
Members of Congress said they were stunned by the violence. Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) said she had expected the day to be tense.
"Them actually entering the United States Capitol is not something anyone would have expected to see here in the United States of America. It it is a shameful and sad day for our democracy," she said.
Rioters will be held responsible for the chaos, D.C.'s mayor said.
"The behavior that we are witnessing is shameful, unpatriotic and, above all, it is unlawful," she said at a news conference Wednesday evening. "Anyone who has engaged in these activities, continues to engage in these activities, will be held accountable."
Pence's office said in a statement Wednesday night that he never left the Capitol.
"@VP was in regular contact w/ House & Senate leadership, Cap Police, DOJ, & DoD to facilitate efforts to secure the Capitol & reconvene Congress. And now we will finish the People's business," it said.
A curfew began in D.C. at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Bowser announced. Nearby Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia also were under curfews.
Many pro-Trump protesters remained on D.C. streets in defiance of the order.
Twitter locked Trump's account after removing three tweets he posted following the chaos. According to the tweet, the account "will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked."
Two "suspected explosive devices" were found and rendered safe, the FBI said. The investigation is ongoing.
"All Americans should be outraged by this assault on our Capitol," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said.
Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said Trump "bears a great deal of the blame." Jan. 6, 2021 will "live forever in infamy" and will be a stain on our democracy, he said.
"The president, who promoted conspiracy theories that motivated these thugs, the president, who exhorted them to come to our nation's capital, egged them on," Schumer continued.
Former President Barack Obama said history will rightly remember the violence at the Capitol as a moment of great dishonor and shame for the nation. Obama said that for two months "a political party and its accompanying media ecosystem has too often been unwilling to tell their followers the truth."
He said "their fantasy narrative has spiraled further and further from reality, and it builds upon years of sown resentments. Now we're seeing the consequences, whipped up into a violent crescendo."
Law enforcement that responded to the Capitol included the D.C. National Guard, Maryland National Guard, Virginia National Guard and officers from multiple D.C.-area police departments. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would send 1,000 Guard troops to assist with security.
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