Originally published January 8, 2021.
Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. last Wednesday afternoon. They made their way through the building and entering congressional chambers, most notably Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.
While Congress was in a joint session to count the electoral votes of the 2020 presidential election, tensions were already running high on Capitol Hill as Republican lawmakers, such as the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, opposed the Electoral results of Biden’s defeat over Trump—306-232 votes. Insurrection and protesting were arising outside Capitol Hill around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon from Trump supporters and extremists; soon after protestors began to climb over mesh barriers and fences storming into the Capitol. Earlier that Wednesday, President Donald Trump encouraged supporters to go to Capitol Hill and protest over voter fraud, despite no evidence of fraud.
Once the Capitol was breached, Senators and Representatives were evacuated by Capitol security as tear gas was fired by protestors in the Capitol Rotunda, most of them wearing gas masks and lying on the Senate floors. Law enforcement barricaded the Chamber’s entrance while legislators were escaping, but protestors toppled inside.
Predominantly white protestors dressed in hunting attire holding Trump flags smashed glass windows in tactical gears, looting inside the Capitol. Protestors disrespectfully jumped on tables in the Senate Chambers taking pictures at the Speaker’s podium and statues; one man in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office with his feet up on the table next to files. One protestor put up the finger towards Martha Raddatz of ABC News while reporting live.
The entire Capitol building was surrounded by smoke inside, along with the chaos of people running and shouting around the floor for the sake of Trump’s defeat.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Browser implemented a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew to stop the protest from occurring more.
The crowd seemed to disperse after the 6 p.m. curfew once National Guard pushed back protesters. Capitol Hill was lit up for the National Guard and law enforcement and for the symbolism of the country.
Five people have been pronounced dead, many others injured. Over 50 people have been arrested by D.C. police. One person who was reportedly shot in the Capitol was a female, identified as Ashli E. Babbitt, was among the rioters at the scene. Babbitt was pronounced dead at the hospital Wednesday night. She was an Air Force veteran and a strong supporter of Trump.
Debates on social media have risen by comparing the way the police handled Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters for peacefully protesting and the way Trump supporters broke into the Capitol. Many bring up the comparison that if it were Black people that broke into the Capitol then the outcome of today’s events would be very different which continues the ongoing conversation of police brutality and the justice system in this country.
As the entire country witnessed the events taking place in Washington D.C., Davona Johnson, an ODU student who currently resides in the nation’s capital witnessed the action firsthand happening in her home city.
“My thoughts on today’s events in the nation’s capital is just another example of the privilege of white Americans. I personally believe that their overt acts of sedition should be labeled as domestic terrorism to our nation’s government. Yes, the First Amendment allows for those to express themselves through speech, assembly, press, and etc.; however, what was demonstrated today should not be protected in any kind of way or fashion because of the fuel of hatred that drives the barbaric and savage Trump protesters on the Hill,“ said Davona Johnson, Senior at ODU.
Kalyn Rutledge, senior and Psychology major at ODU residing in D.C., says she was safe during the protests and away from the Hill. She pointed out the difference in handling the protesters, “It’s just a shame how obvious the difference in treatment is between these rioters and what happened all last summer with BLM protestors.”
She says, “I believe it’s because not only was DC unprepared for the massive scale of rioters but also they didn’t see them as a threat like they do black people. Which is literally the whole reason people were protesting in the summertime.”
Rutledge also commented on Trump’s denial of Biden’s electoral victory, “He is pretty much the King of Denial, so it didn’t surprise me that he was acting this way. It seems that other than losing, the other thing he hates the most is to admit he’s wrong. So I don’t really ever see him backtrack any of his statements or actions because it would mean admitting to some type of wrongdoing.”
ODU released a statement Thursday morning denouncing the actions that took place at the Capitol Wednesday afternoon. The statement comes from Austin O. Agho, Ph.D.,the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs and Don Stansberry, Ph.D., the Vice President for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services.
“Yesterday we witnessed the breach of the Capitol in Washington by those seeking to undermine our nation’s democratic electoral process. We condemn violence and stand firm in our support of democracy and a peaceful transition of power.”
Governor Ralph Northam worked sent in Virginia law enforcement to the nation’s capital to assist with decreasing the Trump supporters’ mob. Northam later made statements on Twitter blaming Trump for the destruction that took place Wednesday afternoon.
“The President incited this mob with his refusal to accept the lawful results of a fair and secure election. And the members of Congress who have enabled him—and who continue to encourage and praise his efforts—bear just as much responsibility,” said Northam via Twitter.
Senators Tim Kaine (VA-D) and Mark Warner (VA-D) were present during the intrusion in the Senate chambers and came out publicly condemning the events that took place on Capitol Hill.
“… we all must condemn—in the strongest possible terms—the attempt yesterday to rob the American people of their duly elected leaders. Goaded by the President and abetted by some of my fellow Senators, right-wing insurrectionists stormed the U.S. Capitol in support of an effort to overturn the presidential election results and install an unelected government. We know exactly how we got to this point,” said Senator Kaine.
Senator Warner posted a video Thursday in the Capitol giving a glimpse of the damage created in the building and commenting on the actions of the Trump mob from the day prior.
“Thousands of thugs incited by Donald Trump created such a windfall for our country’s enemies by storming the Capitol and showing is there really something special about American democracy. It’s incumbent upon all of us to believe in our constitution and rule of law. put aside the rhetoric and put our country first,” said Senator Warner.
Representative Elaine Luria (VA-D) took to twitter her thoughts on Wednesday’s events and believes that Trump should be removed from office by any legal means. Some members in congress, such as Speaker Pelosi and Senator Warner are among some who have also spoken out against the President and would like to invoke the 25th amendment on Donald Trump to remove him from office during his final two weeks in office.
“President Trump’s incitement of violence and a terrorist attack on the US Capitol are the final straw – he must be removed from office immediately and by whatever legal means possible,” said Elaine Luria via Twitter.
Governor Ralph Northam instated a curfew for Alexandria and Arlington, two districts in Virginia that sit on the border of D.C. from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
President-elect Joe Biden stated in his press conference that the demonstrations of the mob of Trump supporters are, “An assault on the rule of law as we know it…”
The Senate and the House of Representatives resumed their session after the Capitol was cleared and confirmed safe to finish their vote on the electoral vote for the 2020 presidential election. At around morning-time, Congress confirmed that President-elect Biden has defeated Trump and will be inaugurated on Jan. 19th.