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4 dead in violent D.C. Capitol building protests

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At about 1 PM Eastern Time — or 10 AM Pacific Time — on Jan. 6, hundreds of President Trump supporters broke through the security surrounding the U.S. Capitol Building and laid siege to the building’s inner chambers in addition to the offices of several congress members. 

The supporters had previously gathered there for a speech by the president and his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who called for a “trial by combat.” The large-scale breach resulted in four deaths, including a woman shot by police, and at least 52 people were arrested. Meanwhile, thousands of others remained non-violently at the rally.

The breach, which occurred during the electoral college vote certification process in the Senate, was intended to delay the vote amid concerns of President Trump and his supporters that the election was “stolen from them,” in the words of Mr. Trump himself. 

After the session was called to recess, a result of protestors entering the building, Vice President Mike Pence was ushered off the floor, while the capitol was placed under lockdown. Several representatives including Washington state congresswoman Pramila Jayapal report having to shelter in place.

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana Trump allies scale the Capitol walls, on their way to storm the interior chamber.

Mr. Trump had organized what he has called a “protest rally” during the certification of the electoral college votes, announcing on Jan. 3 via Twitter that it would be a “historic day”. Since Dec. 27, he’s promoted the attendance of protestors for the otherwise procedural event. His encouragement of the protests did not stop until the day of, where critics say he weakly tweeted about the violence at the Capitol after hours of silence.

“No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order — respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!” one of the tweets read, after people had been injured, killed, and continued clashes with police officers, who also suffered injuries. 

Aubrey Allegretti/Sky News Crushed water bottles and the shattered remains of the Capitol’s front door glass litter the floor.

Trump’s finalmost Twitter act before he was temporarily suspended in violation of Twitter rules was to release a video attempting to console his followers and tell them to go home. 

“We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special,” he states at one point. 

Facebook has also suspended his account temporarily, and Twitter has stated “future violations […] will result in the permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account”.

During the brief occupation inside the capitol building, Trump supporters were seen vaping in congressional offices, stealing Rep. Pelosi’s podium, and sitting in the presidential seat on the Senate floor. They also smashed windows, rushed police lines, and climbed scaffoldings to replace the American flag with a Trump 2020 flag. 

Aubrey Allegretti/Sky News A confederate flag wielding Trump supporter saunters through the halls of the Capitol building.

An armed standoff took place where Capitol Police and private security guards confronted pro-Trump intruders at about 3 PM ET, though it is unclear if anyone was injured or killed during the incident.

The floor and building were eventually secured at about 5:40 PM ET after a widespread effort by several police forces, including the National Guard, called in by Vice-President Pence.

The failure of law enforcement to secure the Capitol Building has been called into question, particularly after the Pentagon refused the request for the National Guard in D.C. ahead of the protests, when the National Guard was swiftly called into play in the 2020 summer BLM protests — which resulted in injuries ranging in severity to protestors and media. 

Disabled protestors, some of them with painful conditions such as ALS, at the Capitol building in June 2017 were also forcibly removed from their wheelchairs immediately as they were arrested for protesting outside Mitch Mcconnell’s office. In both cases, the response was much more immediate, forceful, and swift than the response to the pro-Trump crowds.

In late 2020, a Department of Homeland Security draft of its Homeland Threat Assessment report calls “white supremacist extremists” the most “persistent and lethal threat”. As reported by Politico, subsequent drafts of the report refrained from the term “white supremacist extremists,” dubbing them instead as “domestic violent extremists.”

Many individuals within Wednesday’s crowd have been identified to be in association with far-right-wing groups, including some who practice the tenets of white supremacy. 

After the Capitol was secured by law enforcement, the certification of the electoral college votes continued some six hours later, later confirming Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 Presidential Election. Additionally, senior officials at the White House have begun submitting resignation letters, with more expected to come. 

During the Capitol break-in, Trump supporters broke through the gates of the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia, calling against allegedly fraudulent state elections. 

Ted S. Warren/AP Gun-toting Trump supporters on the Governor’s front lawn

Wednesday night, after both the D.C. Capitol and Governor’s mansion were secured, an email went out from Seattle Central College President Dr. Sheila Edwards Lange addressing the Capitol mayhem. 

“Watching and hearing the news from the other Washington and from Olympia today, I am hard pressed not to believe that this is the lowest point of American democracy in my lifetime,” Dr. Edwards Lange stated. 

She invited students and faculty alike to a Zoom meeting to share and connect alongside long-time faculty member and Associate Vice President for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Valerie Hunt. The Zoom link was sent through student and faculty emails and the event commenced from 12 to 1 PM on Jan. 7. 

“Let us remain hopeful for a better future ahead, and to continue our work of building up the beloved community, together”, finalized Dr. Edwards Lange in her email statement.

Danny Barber is the Managing Editor of the Seattle Collegian and an English student at Seattle Central college. She enjoys writing creatively, drawing, baking, video games, and going on long-winded random internet research sessions. After Seattle Central, she plans on getting her Master’s in English and working on the editorial board of another paper someday.

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