Armed pro-Trump rioters breach US capitol as lawmakers shelter in place

Chambers and offices locked down as president’s supporters breach Capitol

Alex Woodward
Wednesday 06 January 2021 20:52 GMT
Trump supporters clash with police on Capitol steps
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Rioters breached the US Capitol and climbed to the dais in the Senate as police ordered members of Congress and staff to evacuate or shelter in place.

Capitol police locked down the Capitol and evacuated several buildings on Wednesday,  after Donald Trump’s supporters stormed Washington DC to reject his loss in the 2020 presidential election. Staff were told to “move in a safe manner to the exists” and “close doors behind you but do not lock” them.

Pro-Trump rioters broke windows, carried Confederate flags into the Capitol, breached security, aimed fire extinguishers at people inside and have attempted to storm into congressional chambers, where members have taken shelter under chairs.

“I just had to evacuate my office because of a pipe bomb reported outside. Supporters of the president are trying to force their way into the Capitol and I can hear what sounds like multiple gunshots,” Congresswoman Elaine Luria announced on Twitter. “I don’t recognize our country today and the members of Congress who have supported this anarchy do not deserve to represent their fellow Americans.”

The joint session of Congress to formally count the electoral college votes went into recess as pro-Trump rioters pushed against police and barriers and surrounded the Senate chamber, threatening a violent coup to overturn the results of the presidential election and install Trump for a second term.

Members of Congress have demanded the president urge his supporters to end their siege; his son Donald Trump Jr has also called the violence “wrong and not who we are”.

A message from Capitol police told staff that “due to a security threat” to immediately move into nearby offices or find a place to hide or seek cover, take emergency equipment, stay away from external doors and windows and silence electronics. 

Members of Congress were instructed to wear gas masks as police fired tear gas.

(Getty Images)

Iowa Congresswoman Cindy Axne said she is sheltering in place with her staff “awaiting more info as we learn that protesters have breached the Capitol”.

She said: “These people are attacking Congress at the invitation of [Trump]. Please sir, tell them to stop.”

Moments after the president condemned his vice president Mike Pence because he didn’t “have the courage to do what should have been done” and overturn votes from millions of Americans in service of the president’s delusion to retain power, based on debunked conspiracies and baseless claims of voter fraud, his supporters broke into the Senate chambers and demanded to see the vice president.

On livestreams from inside the Capitol hosted by QAnon conspiracists and far-right personalities who have encouraged violence, rioters called out “globalists” and shouted “America first” and “trust the plan”, a QAnon rallying cry.

Federal law enforcement has warned for months that far-right violence poses a significant threat to national security, with the FBI warning that the nation could face a significant “violent extremist threat” within the months leading up to Election Day and the 2021 inauguration, serving as a “potential flashpoint for violence”.

The Department of Homeland Security has also warned that domestic violent extremist groups – particularly white supremacist extremists – remain the nation’s largest security threat.

More follows…

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