Mayhem at the Capitol; an Analysis of the Storming of the US Capitol


Courtesy of TapTheForwardAssist on Wikimedia commons

Jack Grbic, Staff Writer

A rally in support of President Donald Trump turned deadly after thousands of rioters stormed the Capitol Building on Wednesday.

The unprecedented chaos at our nation’s capital began midday Wednesday at a “Save America” rally at the Ellipse, which is a park near the White House. For weeks Trump insisted that his supporters march to the Capitol and prevent Congress from approving Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. At the rally, Donald Trump utilized his last chance to speak to supporters before the certification, saying “You have to show strength,” which indicates that Donald Trump used the opportunity and his rhetoric to make a final push for his supporters to gather in support of preventing the certification of the election. These words would come back to haunt the Republican Party, and specifically the Trump administration.

Starting at 1:55 pm, evacuations of U.S congressional buildings began due to “police activity” outside Capitol Hill, but it remains unclear as to what initiated the evacuations of buildings like the Cannon House Office Building and the building that houses the Library of Congress.

As the activity outside of the Capitol grew increasingly tense, the Senate certification of the Electoral College entered a recess after protestors forced the Capitol to go into lockdown. As lawmakers were held hostage in the building, protestors broke down metal barricades at the foot of the Capitol Building. 

The debate surrounding the Electoral College was suspended as ill-informed government officials scrambled to find safety after the first wave of protestors turned rioters successfully entered the Capitol building. The mayor of Washington, D.C. ordered a 6:00 pm curfew as tensions continued at an unpredictable rise at the nation’s capital.

Shortly after, President Trump posted a video on Twitter, where he delusionally insisted that the election was rigged and that his party had won the election by a landslide victory. At the end of his speech, his only words to address the protestors were for them to “go home in peace.”

Members of the House of Representatives who hadn’t managed to safely exit the building were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas and other harmful weapons were used in multiple places inside the building.

Protesters managed to push their large crowds through the building and enter the Senate Chamber, where the rioters took photos of the central chamber podium as they chanted about Trump’s election victory. Fortunately, protesters were unable to infiltrate the House Chamber, where representatives hid behind chairs in fear as police officers barricaded the doors. Police pointed their guns in fear as protestors overwhelmed the entrances of the chamber. Only spare chairs and benches held the doors back from being broken down by rioters. Representatives coward in fear with the thought of being killed as the shouts of the protestors grew louder and more violent. An image of the standoff between officers, guns holstered, and protestors outside the chamber doors remains an image ingrained in the minds of so many people after the terrible ordeal. 

As the events unfolded, both Democratic and Republican lawmakers called on President Trump to condemn his supporters who were violently clashing with law enforcement. President Trump’s response was to issue another statement calling on his supporters to “remain peaceful.” 

Shortly after President Trump issued his statement, one person had been shot due to the chaos from rioters colliding with specialized riot police as they continued to infiltrate Capitol Hill. Rioters vandalized the desks of high-ranking House and Senate members, with one activist putting his feet up on the desk of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, writing “We will not back down,” on one of the papers on her desk. Rioters brandished the Confederate Flag as they ransacked the offices of government officials, while rioters outside proudly swayed Neo-Nazi flags and other symbols of hate in the presence of our beacon of democracy. Far-right extremists wore shirts with the logos of organizations such as QAnon, whose supporters believe that the government is comprised of Satan-worshipping cannibalistic pedophiles who are running a global child sex-trafficking ring. Inside the building, other rioters carried weapons like spears as they wore facepaint, furs, and other eccentric clothing.

While Washington, D.C. prepared for its curfew, police used tear gas and percussion grenades to begin clearing the grounds of the Capitol Building ahead of the impending curfew. At least thirteen people were arrested and five firearms were recovered. At least five people died inside the Capitol Building when the situation was mediated by riot control police. 

To add to the disgrace of Wednesday’s events, nations such as Venezuela and Russia, which have a record of violating human rights, denounced the actions of the protestors and that of President Trump.

Additionally, Republican officials have begun the process of distancing themselves from the crumbling Trump administration. As of January 12th, sixteen Trump advisors, including Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Trump’s Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, the wife of now Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, have resigned as a result of Trump’s failure to condemn the actions of Capitol rioters.

As we are nearing the one week mark since the riots at Capitol Hill, Trump may become the first president to ever be impeached twice in office. House lawmakers introduced an article of impeachment against President Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” on Monday. Additionally, representatives in the House introduced a resolution calling for Trump to be removed through the 25th Amendment after Democrats confirmed that they would move forward with impeachment if their push to remove the president through the 25th Amendment falters. The amendment states that if the President becomes unable to do his job, or isn’t fit to stay in office, the Vice President becomes the President. The difficulty the House will have in adopting the 25th Amendment will be how they convince Vice President Mike Pence to turn against the President this close to the end of his presidency, encourage the Cabinet to support the amendment, and persuade Congress to support Vice President Pence and the cabinet if President Trump challenges the vote. Now the important questions remain:  Should President Trump and others who encouraged the rioters be held accountable? Should the president be removed from office this close to President-Elect Biden’s inauguration?