US Democracy under attack — Scenes from the U.S. Capitol siege
The 2021 storming of the United States Capitol was a riot and violent attack against the 117th United States Congress on January 6, 2021, carried out by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. After attending a rally organized by Trump, thousands of his supporters marched down Pennsylvania Avenue before many stormed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to disrupt the Electoral College vote count during a joint session of Congress and prevent the formalization of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. Breaching police perimeters, rioters then occupied, vandalized, looted, and ransacked parts of the building for several hours. The breach led to the evacuation and lockdown of the Capitol building, as well as five deaths.
Called to action by Trump, his supporters gathered in Washington, D.C. on January 5 and 6 in support of his false claim that the 2020 election had been “stolen” from him, and to demand that Vice President Mike Pence and Congress reject Biden’s victory. At a January 6 “Save America March” on the Ellipse, Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Rudy Giuliani, and several members of Congress incited a crowd of Trump supporters. Trump told them to “fight like hell” to “take back our country” but encouraged them to peacefully march over to the Capitol. Giuliani called for “trial by combat” and Trump Jr. threatened the president’s opponents by saying “we’re coming for you”, having called for “total war” in the weeks leading up to the riots. After marching to the Capitol building and overwhelming thinly manned police barricades, many protesters became violent; they assaulted Capitol Police officers and reporters, erected a gallows on the Capitol grounds, chanted “Hang Mike Pence”, and attempted to locate lawmakers to take hostage and harm, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Pence, the latter for refusing to illegally overturn Trump’s electoral loss.
As the rioters entered the Capitol by breaking through doors and windows, Capitol security evacuated the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. Several buildings in the Capitol complex were evacuated, and all were locked down. Rioters broke past interior security to occupy the empty Senate chamber while federal law enforcement officers drew handguns to defend the evacuated House floor. The offices of many members of Congress, including Pelosi, were looted and vandalized. Improvised explosive devices were found on the Capitol grounds, as well as at offices of the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, and in a nearby vehicle. Five people, including a Capitol Police officer, died from the events, while dozens more were injured.
Trump initially resisted sending the District of Columbia National Guard to quell the mob. In a Twitter video, he called the rioters “great patriots” and told them to “go home in peace” while repeating his election claims. Pressured by his administration, the threat of removal, and numerous resignations, Trump committed to an orderly transition of power in a televised statement. The crowd was dispersed from the Capitol later that evening, and the counting of the electoral votes resumed and was completed in the early morning hours. Pence declared Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris victors and affirmed that they will assume office on January 20. Three days later on January 9, it was reported that Trump told White House aides that he regretted his “orderly transition” statement and that he would not resign from office.
The events were widely condemned by political leaders and organizations in the United States and internationally. Speaking in Congress immediately following their return to the floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called the storming of the Capitol a “failed insurrection” and affirmed that Trump’s claims of election fraud were false. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called for Trump to be removed from office, through the 25th Amendment or by impeachment. Facebook locked Trump’s accounts and removed posts related to the incident; Twitter initially locked his account for 12 hours before permanently suspending it.
The storming of the Capitol was variously described as treason, insurrection, sedition, domestic terrorism, and an attempt by Trump to carry out a self-coup or coup d’état incited by the President, being the head of the Executive branch of the Federal government of the United States, against the coequal Legislative branch and his own Executive branch Vice President. Opinion polls showed that the large majority of Americans disapproved of the storming of the Capitol and of Trump’s actions leading up to it, although some Republicans supported the attack or did not blame Trump for it. On January 11, 2020, President Trump admitted to senior Republican House and Senate leaders he was partially to blame for the violence that occurred at the US Capitol.
Courtesy : Wikipedia