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Pro-Trump mobs storm US Capitol buildings

Yesterday, thousands of Trump supporters force entry into the US Capitol building following Trump urging them to march in response to the US Presidential Election results, resulting in four deaths with one woman being shot and 52 being arrested.

As a last bid to upturn the vote that was insubstantially claimed to have been subjected to mass voter fraud, President Donald Trump gave a speech at the Save America March set up next to the US Capitol building on the day of the planned congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory, before inciting his supporters to “walk down” to the US Capitol building containing members of Congress, including Vice President Mike Pence who later resisted Trump’s demands to discard state votes in his favour. 25 minutes later, according to The Guardian, the rioters breached police lines, toppling barricades and barging past Capitol police.

Shortly after Pence’s decision, the mob forced their way through the front door, from where they roamed around the Rotunda and Statuary Hall, “vandalizing Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, smashing windows, looting art and briefly taking control of the Senate chamber”, according the NY Times, before tear gas was used inside. Lawmakers and staff resided in the House of Chambers on the opposite side of the building, whose entrances they barricaded and secured with gun-drawn police. Outside the building, officers brandishing truncheons and riot shields clashed with rioters.

According to the Telegraph, a 6pm citywide curfew was announced by Washington mayor Muriel Bowser, who also ordered the entire District of Columbia National Guard, made up of 1,100 troops. Ashli Babbit, a US Air Foirce veteran, has been identified as the pro-Trump supporter fatally shot during the chaos, although it has not been made clear who fired the shot. Three others died due to medical reasons. The New York Times reported a pipe bomb found at the Republic National Committee Headquarters.

At 4:10pm, Biden issued a statement condemning the “siege,” claiming their “democracy is under an unprecedented assault” that “borders on sedition.” He also called upon Trump to “step up” and disperse the crowd, who conceded, telling the riot to “go home” but commemorating them for their actions, saying they are “special” in a video that Twitter immediately flagged. After this, the mob slowly dispersed and the Capitol was declared secure at 5:50pm after a four-hour occupation.

The Police have been criticized heavily online for their ill prepared response, with the Save America March being the finale of a series of pro-Trump marches that attempted to resist the US election results, including the Million MAGA March on 14th November that contained tens of thousands, according to Reuters, and domestic terrorist group ‘the Proud Boys’, who were present at the riot, threatening an armed response if Biden were to become the next president.

Similar scenes of armed militia groups appeared on the same day at State government buildings in Georgia, Kansas and Utah, from which Georgia governor Brian Kemp and secretary of state Brad Raffensberger were evacuated, the Independent reports. Mr Kemp tweeted: “this is absolutely disgraceful, un-American, and must stop immediately.”

In Kansas, the statehouse was entered at the same time as the riot at Washington. Protestors stayed in the public rotunda of the building and did not access the private offices. In Downtown LA, an estimated 200 protesters chanted “do your job” at police and waved American flags, according to LA Times. Eric Garcetti, the mayor, tweeted that Trump must condemn the violence.

Utah saw an estimated 250 pro-Trump supporters gather outside the Capitol building, and a photographer was pepper-sprayed by protestors for recording the protest, Fox reports. These incidents were reminiscent of the Michigan Capitol occupation on 30th April, when the police let an armed militia of 100 people into the state building to protest lockdown restrictions.

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Jim Gell

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May 2022
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