By Sasha Tucker
New York City, New York
Mere hours before members of the House and Senate were due to gather at the Capitol to certify the vote of the Electoral College, President Donald Trump vowed to his supporters that he would “never concede.”
The rally (coined “Save America”) attracted thousands of supporters to Washington D.C. Trump called on Vice President Mike Pence to do “the right thing.” As the rally ended, those in attendance, Trump’s most extreme supporters, moved from the rally site, up Pennsylvania Avenue towards the Capitol building.
Trump supporters congregated along a police barricade outside the western steps. They soon forced their way through the barricade, and in at least one instance, police opened it for them. As they made their way up the steps, the joint-session of Congress was recessed.
Shortly after Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell said the will of the voters should not be overridden by Congress, the Capitol was placed into lockdown. Members of Congress began tweeting about being evacuated to secure locations. Senate aides took with them the Electoral College certificates, ensuring that Trump supporters could not literally steal the election results.
Capitol Police were overwhelmed. The president’s supporters were scattered across the building, climbing walls and waving pro-Trump, swastika and confederate flags. The mob of Trump supporters broke a window and gained access to the interior of the building. Around 3:00 p.m., tear gas was fired into the Capitol rotunda and lawmakers were told to put on gas masks.
While inside the building, the mob moved freely within the Rotunda. They vandalized statues, broke through the doors of the wing of the building that contains the House chamber, vandalized statues and broke into Congress member’s offices. They emerged with spoils: signs, a wooden plaque marking Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and even a podium.
Police seized five guns and arrested at least 13 people, reported The New York Times. The Washington Post reported that four people died: one woman was shot by police and three died in medical emergencies. The National Guard was not mobilized until around 4:00 p.m., and it was Pence, not Trump, who approved the order.
Stark comparisons are being drawn between police reaction to Black Lives Matter protests this summer and a full-on siege of the Capitol. Ibram X Kendi, a professor at Boston University, tweeted that “White privilege is on display like never before in the U.S. Capitol. If these people were Black… well, we all know what would be happening right now to them.”
It took hours for police to clear out the mob. Congress reconvened around 8:00 p.m. to certify the Electoral College results. At midnight, the results of 22 states had been certified.