Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol

Published 1:19 pm Thursday, January 7, 2021

Rioters breached the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 6, suddenly halting the congressional certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.

In the chaos, one woman was shot and killed.

President Donald Trump began the day with hopes the Senate would overturn the result of the presidential election and the legal challenge that unfolded thereafter, but he did not end up receiving the support he had hoped for from Vice President Mike Pence and other Republican senators.

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The Washington Post reported that Trump told a large crowd outside the White House that they should never accept defeat, and The New York Times noted he urged supporters to go to the Capitol in protest.

Hundreds of his supporters stormed the Capitol building, The Post reported, adding that with poles bearing blue Trump flags, a mob that would eventually grow into the thousands bashed through Capitol doors and windows, forcing their way past police officers seemingly unprepared for the onslaught. Lawmakers were evacuated shortly before an armed standoff at the entrance to the House Chamber. Canisters of tear gas were fired across the Rotunda’s white marble floor.

Photos later showed rioters reached the Senate Chamber as well as the House and several legislator’s offices.

Elected officials at the local and federal levels offered their reactions to the riot.

David Whitus

“Today is a sad day in our country,” Farmville Mayor David Whitus said. “We are seeing an unprecedented assault on our democracy. This is not who we are as Americans — this is (like a) third world country. America is a beacon of democracy where we work through our disagreements in a civilized fashion.”

Both Virginia Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine gave updates on Twitter to notify that they were safe.

Not long before the chaos that ensued around 2 p.m., Warner tweeted a photo of himself watching protests outside the Capitol building and stated that he was reminded of the oath he swore to support and defend the Constitution.

“Today I will continue to uphold that oath,” he wrote. He added in another tweet that evening, “This attack will not stop Congress from continuing the business of certifying the Electoral College votes, come hell or high water.”

U.S. Rep. Bob Good, the newly elected Republican congressman representing Virginia’s 5th District, shared a statement on Twitter at 4:41 p.m.

“Peaceful assembly, protesting and petitioning our government to express our grievances is fundamental to our constitutional republic,” he said. “We are also a nation established on the rule of law, and we must never resort to violence.

“I call on everyone to express their views peacefully and to respect our Capitol and courageous law enforcement officers working nobly to keep us all safe. I am thankful that my staff and I are safe, and my prayer is for the safety of everyone today.”

Denver Riggleman

Republican Denver Riggleman’s run as Virginia’s 5th District representative ended days ago, but he offered his perspective on Wednesday’s events in an interview, highlighting concerns he had been expressing during his term in Washington.

“I think at this point it’s sad, it’s tragic, and I think we now know how disinformation can lead people to do horrific things,” he said of the attack on the Capitol. “And what we’re seeing right now at the Capitol really is the inevitable conclusion to things like ‘Stop The Steal’ conspiracy theories and how you can certainly radicalize people using language that’s just not true.

“I think at this point we’ve got to blame the president, we’ve got to blame his legal team, we’ve got to blame a lot of public leaders who have not stood up and said that these conspiracy theories are ridiculous, because we’re honestly seeing right now how disinformation can destroy the republic,” he added.

After Trump tweeted out his disappointment in what he characterized as Pence’s lack of courage, he did send out a tweet at 2:38 p.m. encouraging support for Capitol Police and law enforcement, and he tweeted at 3:13 p.m. asking everyone at the Capitol to remain peaceful, calling for respect for the law.

He tweeted a one-minute video at 4:17 p.m. directed at his supporters who were rioting.

“I know your pain. I know your hurt,” he said. “We had an election that was stolen from us. It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it, especially the other side. But you have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt.”

President-elect Biden released remarks shortly before 5 p.m., calling the Capitol riot a scene of chaos that does not reflect the true America.

“This is not who we are,” he said. “What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent. It is disorder. It is chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end. Now.”

Undeterred by the violent interruption Wednesday afternoon, Congress went back into session Wednesday evening to complete the certification of the Electoral College votes. Joe Biden was declared the 46th president of the United States at approximately 3:33 a.m. Thursday morning.