Brutal scenes in the heart of American democracy: Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to prevent the confirmation of Democrat Biden’s election victory. A woman was killed in the process. Hours later the police cleared the building. The mood remains heated.
After several hours of violent occupation by supporters of US President Donald Trump, the Capitol in Washington – the seat of both chambers of parliament – is safe again. The police announced – to the applause of the MPs, who persevered in a locked room. Heavily armed police officers had previously cleared the building. They also used stun grenades and tear gas.
Chaotic scenes had played out in the Capitol after numerous Trump supporters had made their way into the building. Actually, the two chambers of parliament wanted to confirm the result of the presidential election in November and the victory of Democrat Joe Biden – a purely formal act. Instead, MPs and their employees had to be brought to safety from angry Trump supporters. TV pictures showed how rioters smashed windows, ransacked parliamentary offices and posed in the vacated Senate Chamber. For hours, parts of the building were in the hands of the mob.
Woman succumbs to gunshot wounds
A woman who sustained a gunshot wound while storming Congress died a few hours later. That is what the police said. The background was initially unclear. The capital’s police launched an investigation, as announced by their boss Robert Contee. Video images apparently showed a protester lying in a hallway inside the Capitol, bleeding after gunshots were fired. However, the authenticity of the recordings was not initially confirmed.
Outside the Capitol there were several hundred Trump supporters in the evening (local time) who do not want to recognize the election victory of Democrat Joe Biden. However, they are apparently being pushed away from the building by police officers. Journalists on site report an extremely aggressive mood. A curfew has been in effect in Washington since 6 p.m. local time, and neighboring states have sent the national guard and state police to the capital.
According to the police, several weapons were seized. According to media reports, the FBI also defused at least two explosive devices.
Trump incites protesters
The protests escalated after US President Donald Trump asked his supporters to protest against the confirmation of the election result by Congress. Trump also repeated his unproven accusation that he had been cheated out of the election victory.
Trump was not particularly impressed by the events. “These are things and events that happen,” tweeted Trump, speaking again of the fact that his “holy landslide victory was so sudden and mean” stolen. Victims are the “great patriots” who have long been treated unfairly, he wrote – apparently with a view to his followers. Previously, Trump had called on the people at the Capitol – also via Twitter – to moderate. “Stay peaceful!” He wrote, calling on them to support the police and security forces.
After the unrest, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube used an unusually tough procedure to delete Trump’s posts in which he again disseminated his unsubstantiated claims about electoral fraud. Twitter even blocked the president’s account for the next twelve hours. In the event of further violations of the rules of the short message service, the account could be blocked completely, the company said.
Session is to be continued
The ceremony to confirm the election result is now to be continued. This was announced by the chairwoman of the House of Representatives, Democrat Nancy Pelosi. The important documents with the results of the votes of the electorate in the individual US states were secured by employees of the Senate. The documents are the basis for the appointment of the future President Biden.
“The good news is that one of the staff was very, very quick-witted and able to pick up the polls and get them to safety,” Senator Tammy Duckworth told CBS News. “So we have them with us and we will be able to continue.” Senator Jeff Merkley posted a photo of wooden boxes on Twitter and wrote that if staff hadn’t taken the ballot papers, “they would have been burned by the mob.”
Pence opposes Trump’s demand
The meeting will be chaired by Trump’s deputy, Vice President Mike Pence. Even before the meeting, he had made it clear that he did not want to block this confirmation of the victory of Democrat Biden. His oath to protect the constitution prevents him from deciding “unilaterally” about “which votes should be counted and which should not”.
Pence opposed Trump’s demands. In the past few days he had increased the pressure on his deputy to overturn Biden’s election victory. Pence should declare a number of the electorate illegitimate and replace them with those who vote for him, according to Trump. He had claimed that the Vice President had the power to “fraudulently” reject electors.