Protestors storm Capitol Building


The storming of the Capitol on Wednesday, January 6th, 2021. Photo Courtesy of Fox Business.

On January 6, 2021, there was a breach on the United States Capitol in Washington, DC. What exactly happened? Here’s what we know:

The original meeting for the day was set to recount Joe Biden’s electoral votes to confirm that he will become the next President of the United States of America. This is the final step before Inauguration Day, which is on the 20th of January  (less than one week away). 

Warnock, Ossoff win in Georgia, handing Dems Senate control | Star Tribune
US Senator Elect Raphael Warnock and US Senator Elect Jon Ossoff win in Georgia, giving Democrats control over the Senate. Photo Courtesy of Star Tribune.

It was also confirmed that the Democrats had taken political control of the United States Senate via Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff’s wins against Republican candidates Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in the state of Georgia.

Before this, Trump had accused states of election fraud. However, they were proven to be untrue. Even Trump’s former U.S. Attorney General, William Barr, rejected Trump’s claims. According to New York Times, “Judges across the country, and a Supreme Court with a conservative majority, have rejected over 60 attempts by Mr. Trump and his allies to challenge the results.”

Just before the riots occurred, Trump held a rally. He had told the crowd to go to the Capitol and “fight like hell” against a  “stolen election,” according to 7News. He “urged them to march to the Capitol in a show of strength,” states Buzzfeed News.   

“Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness,” he told supporters who had gathered in front of the White House, “you have to show strength, and you have to be strong. We have come to demand that Congress do the right thing and only count the electors who have been lawfully slated. Lawfully slated. I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building.”

Many of those storming the Capitol carried Trump, MAGA, and Confederate flags across their bodies. According to Buzzfeed, the mob also “sprayed police officers with chemicals, looted, and hung nooses, claiming to crush their cultish leader’s delusional claims that the election was stolen from him.” 

After the DC riots, the Capitol is getting a new 7-foot-fence - Los Angeles Times
Protesters climbing walls of the Capitol. Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Times.

Five people died; two women and three men. One of the women, who had been an Air Force veteran, stormed the Capitol and died after being shot by Capitol Police. Two of the men and the other woman had died of unidentified medical reasons near the Capitol, but it is unclear if they were a part of the riot. The other man, who was a police officer, was injured in a clash against protesters. 

Law enforcement officers were easily crushed by the Trump protesters. The mob quickly broke through metal barricades, forced doors open that lead straight into the Capitol, and distracted/occupied officers and law enforcement officials, who were far outnumbered. The police had to resort to using pepper spray, shields, and metal barriers to stop people, with minimal success.

 The rioters later on broke into the offices of lawmakers and replaced the American flag with Trump flags. Some were photographed lounging on the platform where Vice President Mike Pence would have begun the process of certifying the election. 

Law enforcement officers had barricaded the doors to the House of Representatives, and drew handguns when rioters broke the windows and eventually claimed the speaker’s podium. Rioters also destroyed news equipment, echoing Trump’s own statements of journalists being “the enemy of the people.” 

The rioters chanted, “We’re coming for bodies. We are at war.” According to CNN, the investigation into the attack suggests it was pre-planned. As time went by, the chants became more and more threatening. One protester shouted, “They didn’t win sh*t. They stole it and you’re f***ing defending it,” while another yelled, “those are our representatives in there stealing our freedom.”

Just before 4 PM, Congressional Democratic leaders Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called for Trump to do more, asking for Trump to tell protesters to leave the grounds. 

Control of the Capitol was regained around 5:30 PM, and around 6 PM, DC’s mayor called for curfew, and 1,100 National Guard troops were brought in with police. That night, police “confiscated at least six firearms and arrested more than 52 people… of those, four arrests were for carrying pistols, 47 were related to curfew violations and unlawful entry… in all, 26 were made on Capitol grounds,” according to Buzzfeed News. Police also recovered two pipe bombs and a cooler containing Molotov cocktails. 

Lawmakers, staff members, and reporters were given “evacuation hoods,” which are devices designed to help them breath easily when passing through areas filled with tear gasses or fire. They were directed to take shelter in tunnels and rooms beneath the Capitol. 

Capitol Police prepared to move the members of Congress once again. Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen had reportedly shouted out, “Call Trump! Call your friend!” 

But a bit after 2:15 pm on the same day, the Capitol Police had locked the doors that lead to the House gallery and told House members not to leave, after escorting them out. Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota had reportedly yelled to his Republican colleagues who had refused to certify the electoral results, reportedly saying that, “This happened because of you.”   

Lawmakers may have been exposed to coronavirus amid Capitol riot - Los Angeles Times
Lawmakers hid in the House Gallery as threats grew outside the House Chamber during the Riots on January 6, 2021. Photo Courtesy of Los Angeles Times.

Meanwhile in the Senate, there were about 200 people locked inside that chamber. 

Around 2:40 PM, members of the House were evacuated by the Capitol Police and the Senate Parliamentarian grabbed the box that held the Electoral College certificates, according to the pool. People were told to stay away from windows, as they might pose an “existential threat.”

A Department of Homeland Security Spokesperson told Buzzfeed that the Capitol Police were assisted with help from the Federal Protection Service and the Secret Service and that they were fulfilling that request. 

At 3:15 p.m., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy made an appearance on Fox News claiming that he had overheard shots firing on the radio, but he was safe and with Capitol Police. He would not say if the shots were inside or outside the building. A reporter who was with the evacuated House lawmakers says that many of them had gathered to say a prayer. 

Members of Congress tweeted, updating everyone on their safety and thoughts throughout the terrible time.

Trump shared a video on social media of him telling the rioters to go home. “We love you,” he said, “you’re very special.” Trump later tried to justify his words by tweeting, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away.” He has since been permanently removed from Twitter. 

There have been more arrests made since the attempted coup on the Capitol, and more can be expected. Meanwhile, continued threats of violence have led to an increase in precautions in the days leading up to the inauguration.