Disturbance at the Capitol

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Samuel Corum

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: Pro-Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. Trump supporters gathered in the nation’s capital today to protest the ratification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory over President Trump in the 2020 election. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Delaney Brown, Co-editor-in-chief

Joseph R. Biden ended the election with 307 electoral votes versus President Trump’s 232, successfully securing the Presidency, an event which caused discontent that spread among Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters across the nation. President Trump discredited the results of the election on December 2 stating, “It is statistically impossible that the person, me, that led the charge, lost.”  Trump has taken several cases to court in many states including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Wisconsin, and Georgia, and pursued over 50 lawsuits in total, filing for election fraud. He was denied trial in some courts due to lack of evidence, and those that did progress to trial ended in defeat. 

About a quarter of Republican legislators within Congress supported President Trump’s efforts in his court battles. Senator Ted Cruz from Texas and Senator Josh Hawley from Minnesota were some of the most loyal supporters during Trump’s presidency and his campaign to overturn the election, also denying the projected results.

On January 6, Congress was set to certify the electoral votes which would officially make Joseph Biden the President-Elect from the government. Within the first hours of their session, Vice President Mike Pence announced he would not support any objections to states’ counts, going against President Trump’s requests. President Trump headed to Twitter to denounce his Vice President’s actions, “Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Country… USA demands the truth!” 

While Congress was in session, President Trump held a rally in Washington, D.C., and urged his attendees to march to the Capitol to, “cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.” This led to one of the most monumental events in modern-day history, a surge on the Capitol Building, the likes of which have not been seen since 1814 when the British attacked the same structure. 

Protests began with people standing outside the building and peacefully protesting with their Trump flags flying in the wind. Suddenly several protesters turned violent as they invaded the Capitol building, breaking windows, doors, and breaching security. At that moment the event turned to violence for which the Capitol police were not prepared. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said, “To those who strove to tear us from our responsibility, you have failed, to those who engaged in the gleeful desecration of this, our temple of … American democracy, justice will be done.” 

Pelosi was personally affected by the raid when participants broke into her office. Media images spread quickly of Richard Barnett reclined at Pelosi’s desk with his feet up. Barnett has since been charged with entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry, and theft of public property in Nebraska. Washington Post reported that Barnett had previously anonymously criticized and attacked Pelosi on Facebook, and is a self-proclaimed white nationalist. He said, “I am white. There is no denying that. I am a nationalist. I put my nation first. So that makes me a white nationalist.” 

Congress officials were ordered to board their offices with chairs and tables as the rioters flooded the halls. All workers at the Capitol were evacuated, and rioters were met with the Capitol Police.  According to former Chief of Police, Steven Sund, who retired shortly after the riot, the National Guard had been requested for extra protection on this day,  but the earlier request was denied by the Senate and the House. 

The rioters went into officials’ offices taking pictures and videos, leaving notes, and catching the attention, and turning the eyes of the nation and the world to their televisions. Once the events were broadcast on major news channels, and all over social media, people looked to President Trump to calm his supporters and to tell them to leave the building. He responded to the siege with two tweets within the first two hours saying to “support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement” and “to remain peaceful.” 

Later, at 4:17 pm he released on Twitter a recorded statement that has since been taken off of the social media site.  In this statement Trump urged his followers to leave peacefully stating, “Go home, We love you, you’re very special.” These words were effective in calming the crowd and clearing many participants.

 Before the riot was deescalated, however, there were still five fatalities. Brian Sicknick, an Air National Guardsman, who then became a Capitol police officer, was “physically engaged with protestors’,’ according to law officials, and died when he was hit on the head with a fire extinguisher. Ashli Babbit, an Air Force veteran, was attending the protest and was fatally shot. Babbit, a known Trump supporter active on social media, served 14 years in the Air Force and owned a pool supply company. Kevin Greeson, an attendee of the protest, told his wife he had to be there for “a monumental event,” He suffered a heart attack and collapsed on the sidewalk outside of the Capitol, and died. Rosanne Boyland, another attendee of the protest, also passed that day. Her family told the Associated Press that Boyland was an avid Trump supporter and believed his claims of victory in the election. The cause of Boyland’s death remains unclear, however, her sister told reporters she collapsed while standing in the Capitol Rotunda. Benjamin Phillips died after the protest, presumably of a stroke, but Phillip’s family has not commented.  Phillips told reporters from The Philadelphia Inquirer, that it was “the first day of the rest of our lives.” Phillips founded Trumparoo website that is self-proclaimed to be a “social network where American Patriots can mobilize against corrupt communist Marxist scummy democrats.”

After this attack, Pelosi called upon Congress to enact the 25th amendment, which gives Congress and the Vice President the right to impeach the sitting president due to a lack of ability to perform properly. Pelosi blamed Trump entirely for “inciting insurrection”. On January 13, Donald Trump was impeached for a second time in his presidency, the first president in the history of this nation to bear that mark.