Thursday, January 21

Hundreds of protesters take to the Capitol cheered by Trump


Washington Correspondent

Updated:

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A mob stormed the Capitol yesterday, inflamed by allegations of election fraud by President Donald Trump, just moments after his own vice president, Mike Pence, refused to reject the results of the presidential elections. The Senate was evacuated, but the House was isolated, with the deputies locked inside, surrounded by an armed mob.

Armed agents had to protect the deputies by pointing their pistols towards the windows of the Chamber, while the assailants tried to take it from the corridors outside. The protesters had previously broken the glass of several windows, and thus broke into the building. Then several shots were heard inside the compound.

Chaos gripped the seat of the legislative branch on the day a new president was to be proclaimed. One of those assailants reached the Senate, and climbed into the seat that the vice president occupied moments before and from there shouted: “Trump won the elections!” Before those same elections, the president was asked on several occasions if he would accept a peaceful transfer of powers and refused to respond.

The mob, which was able to reduce the Police, walked through the corridors of the Capitol, and even reached the offices of some of their lordships, including the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. On his desk, they left a note: “We will not give up.” Those words had been said by Trump moments before in a harangue to his supporters from the White House.

The vice president had to be evacuated. The police created a security perimeter around the building and began to evacuate it, using pepper spray and smoke bombs. A woman, injured in the head, covered in blood and apparently unconscious, was evacuated on a stretcher. According to health services, he later died of a shot to the chest.

 Security forces agents point their weapons at a window through which the assailants were trying to access
Security forces agents point their weapons at a window through which the assailants were trying to access – AFP

Risk of violence

The mayor of the capital immediately declared a curfew for dusk, given the risk of violence. On Tuesday night there were already violent riots in the US capital, with clashes between supporters of the president and the metropolitan police. There were at least a dozen detainees. Some 1,100 Washington National Guard reservists were to be deployed Wednesday night.

A large part of those protesters went to the Capitol after hearing Trump’s speech to the White House, in which the president again denounced fraud and promised to continue fighting to stay in power. Upon reaching the headquarters of the legislative branch, they surrounded him and fought with the police, until they broke through the security perimeter.

There is usually a cordon around the building, and it is impossible to climb the stairs to the doors of the chambers, although that crowd managed it, surprisingly and unexpectedly. Meanwhile, the offices and the Senate they were evacuated through the great network of underground corridors that is in this room.

Normally, you have to go through a strict security check to enter the Capitol compound, where the House of Representatives and the Senate are located. The building has its own police force, which had to contain the mob. This stormed the entrances from the various stairs. Many wore T-shirts and banners with the letter ‘Q’, a symbol of a conspiracy theory who maintains that there is a pedophile plot in which the Democrats are involved and that only Trump can stop it from power.

 Police face protesters
Police confront protesters – AFP

Even though the vice president had been evacuated, Trump accused him on Twitter of lack of courage for finally assuming Biden’s victory in the presidential elections. Finally, the president asked his supporters to calm down, also on Twitter: “Support the Police, they are on our side”. “Keep the peace,” Trump said.

The president had been asking his supporters for weeks to mobilize against the certification of the results of the November elections, which he has described as fraudulent. There have already been several demonstrations in the past weeks, but all of them are generally peaceful. Courts of justice, including the Supreme Court, have so far rejected all allegations of fraud by President Trump and his lawyers. He has asked his supporters to mobilize to save his presidency.

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