Pro-Donald Trump protesters, upset at the outcome of the presidential election, stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday as Congress met to tally the electoral votes that certify Joe Biden’s election as president.
Protesters overwhelmed US Capitol Police outside as numerous others breached security and entered the Capitol building, creating a scene of chaos and causing members of Congress to flee the House and Senate chambers to be safely locked down in their offices while some were evacuated elsewhere.
At about 2pm (19:00 GMT), while senators were debating an objection to Arizona’s electoral votes raised by Republican Trump supporters, debate was halted when word came that protesters were in the hall outside the Senate chamber.
As the protests escalated, Trump first tweeted more criticism of his vice president, Mike Pence, who was presiding over the congressional vote tally, then urged his supporters to “Stay peaceful!” a request that did not seem to be heeded.
The Associated Press reported that one person was shot at the Capitol amid a melee with pro-Trump protesters.
At least one protester made it into the Senate chamber and shouted, “Trump won that election” from the dais.
Protesters made it into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office. Pelosi had been evacuated from the area and her daughter said her mother was safe.
Trump’s former White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, pleaded with the president to condemn the protesters, saying “you are the only one they will listen to”.
Shortly after Farah’s plea, Trump tweeted, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Pence later tweeted, “The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now.”
Trump’s supporters in Congress are speaking out about the violence and imploring the president to get things under control.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who backed the Republican plan to object to some states’ electoral votes during Wednesday’s tally, said in a US television interview, “What we are currently watching unfold is un-American. I am disappointed. I am sad. This is not what our country should look like.”
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio tweeted, “Mr. President @realDonaldTrump the men & women of law enforcement are under assault. It is crucial you help restore order by sending resources to assist the police and ask those doing this to stand down.”
As overwhelmed law enforcement tried to deal with the protesters, the mayor of Washington, DC, Muriel Bowser, implemented a city-wide curfew for 21:00 GMT. Bowser had pre-emptively asked for National Guard assistance earlier this week and White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted that Trump ordered the National Guard to the US Capitol.
In the 4pm (21:00 GMT) hour, both Biden and Trump addressed the violence with Biden denouncing the protesters as “extremists” and “a mob” and Trump saying “We love you. You are very special.”