Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol, which houses the Congress, firing shots inside the building as the legislature was preparing to seal the election of Joe Biden as the next President and Kamala Harris as the Vice President.
In a direct assault on the democratic process, the mobs rampaged through the Capitol, entering the Senate floor and breaking into offices of Congress members.
The protesters, who had heard a stirring declaration from Trump that he would “never concede” his defeat to Biden, rushed to the Capitol waving Trump banners and national flags.
They overwhelmed the police and broke through the barriers and entered the Senate chamber. People wearing Trump banners and bearing placards were seen walking around the chamber. One man was sitting in the chair of the Senate President.
At least five people were injured, one of them seriously.
The National Guard has been deployed and was expected to begin clearing out the Capitol amid fears of violent clashes.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnnany tweeted, “At President @realDonaldTrump’s direction, the National Guard is on the way along with other federal protective services. We reiterate President Trump’s call against violence and to remain peaceful.”
Vice President Mark Pence, who was presiding over the joint session of Congress to ratify the electoral college votes electing Biden, was taken by security personnel out of the Senate chamber.
Pence Tweeted, “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.”
Members of Congress hunkered down at various secure locations in the Capitol.
NBC TV showed Pramila Jayapal sitting in the House of Representatives gallery amid the anarchy.
Trump tweeted, “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Biden demanded that Trump go on national television to ask his supporters to end the siege and withdraw from the Capitol. “President Trump, step up,” he said.
Shortly afterwards, Trump put out a video tweet asking his supporters to go home and saying that they would play in to the hands of his opponents.
But at the same time he said that the election was stolen from him and that he understood their feelings.
He and others, including members of Trump’s own party, blamed him for the violence that threatened the democratic process.
Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth said on TV that Congress members will not be cowered down by the mobs and will stay on to complete their task however long it takes. She is a wounded military pilot who lost her legs in action.
The mob attack began after the joint session was adjourned and the Senate and the House met separately to discuss objections from Congress members supporting Trump to the electoral college votes from Arizona state.