An unprecedented and dramatic protest took over news headlines on Wednesday, January 6, when a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C., managing to breach security and enter the House and Senate chambers, causing legislators and officials to scatter to safety.
The protest, in which some of the participants were armed, was directed at the afternoon's congressional session held to certify the 2020 Electoral College vote, a largely ceremonial process that would officially name Joe Biden president. The vote was being contested by sitting President Trump, who urged his followers in an earlier rally to protest and "stop the steal" of the presidency, which he alleges was won by fraudulent means.
Once protesters managed to enter the building, the House floor was evacuated by police, whisking away key figures such as Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, all of whom are presumably in safe quarters.
I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
Trump himself, presumably taken away by the Secret Service, lost no time in tweeting a somewhat lukewarm call to protesters, asking them to stop the violence.
Let me be very clear: the scenes of chaos at the Capitol do not represent who we are. What we are seeing is a small number of extremists dedicated to lawlessness. This is not dissent, it's disorder. It borders on sedition, and it must end. Now.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 6, 2021
President-elect Biden, who was not present at the protests or the Congressional meeting, had a broader message, suggesting that ordinary Americans must take into account that this was an act of extremists. His words were re-tweeted by Harris, who clearly was taken to safety immediately.
The violence and destruction taking place at the US Capitol Must Stop and it Must Stop Now. Anyone involved must respect Law Enforcement officers and immediately leave the building.— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) January 6, 2021
Pence, who was presiding over the congressional hearing and likely one of the first to be ushered out of danger, lost no time in rebuking protesters, saying that they would be subject to the full extent of the law if they didn't knock off their violent behavior immediately.
Other key figures who weren't in the vicinity of the protests included FLOTUS Melania Trump, who, per usual, remained silent on social media, and Trump advisor/daughter Ivanka Trump, who condemned the violence in a tweet but clarified that "peaceful protest is patriotic."
Scroll through the gallery below to see some of the inside photos showing the chaos erupting at the Capitol — a violent afternoon nobody in the U.S. could possibly have forecasted.
President Trump delivered remarks to supporters gathered to protest Congress’ upcoming certification of Biden as the next president on the Ellipse in Washington D.C.
Pro-Trump supporters breached the security perimeter of the U.S. Capitol to protest against the Electoral College vote count that would certify President-elect Biden as the winner of the 2020 election.
A banner is hung on a barricade outside the Capitol building to show rally support for the sitting President.
Trump supporters gathered to pray together before making their voices heard outside of the Capitol building.
A person was removed on a stretcher as Trump delivered remarks to supporters gathered to protest the congressional hearing that would certify Biden as the next U.S. president.
Pro-Trump rioters breached the security perimeter and penetrated the U.S. Capitol as part of their violent protest.
Police, armed and protected with face coverings and gas masks, rushed to evacuate the politicians holding session inside the Capitol building.
A law enforcement officer passed out gas masks as the House was evacuated during a joint session of Congress, which was disrupted by the protesters.
A man was assisted by police in the National Statuary Hall as protesters stormed the building.