The US Capitol building has been put in lockdown and multiple congressional buildings have been evacuated following increasingly violent protests by supporters of President Donald Trump as the Congress began the debate on certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
Four persons have died amid chaotic scenes in Washington and 52 have been arrested. One woman was shot by the US Capitol police as a mob tried to break through a barricaded door, and three died in medical emergencies, reports The Associated Press.
According to CNN, shortly after 1 pm ET (11:30 pm IST), pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the US Capitol Building, chanting ‘USA! USA!’ and waving American flags, as well as flags reading ‘Don’t Tread on Me.’
Meanwhile, Mayor of Washington DC, Muriel Bowser, announced that she has issued an order extending the public emergency declared earlier today for a total of 15 days.
I have issued Mayor’s Order 2021-003, extending the public emergency declared earlier today for a total of 15 days, until and unless provided for by further Mayoral Order.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) January 7, 2021
Social media platforms Twitter and Facebook temporary suspended US President Donald Trump from posting to their platforms. The decisions came after posts Trump made about his supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, reports The Associated Press. Subsequently, Instagram also suspended Trump’s account for 24 hours.
A crowd of Trump supporters estimated to be in the thousands travelled to Washington on Wednesday to pressure lawmakers and Vice President Pence to overturn the results of the election. Pence noted earlier in the day that he does not have the power to object to electors, reported The Hill.
Reacting to the protests, Trump urged the protesters to support Capitol police and stay peaceful. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!” he tweeted.
The US Capitol was breached during a tense situation with demonstrators, according to Capitol police officers. “Due to an INTERNAL threat in the building, take shelter in the nearest office and stay quiet,” said the police.
Protesters could be seen pushing against metal fences, and police using the fences to push protesters back, while other officers reached over the top to club people trying to cross their lines.
The US Capitol complex has been placed on lockdown. An announcement played that said in the US Capitol said to “move away from windows and doors” and “no one can leave or enter”, although people were allowed to move about inside the building.
World political leaders reacted to the incident.
US President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday (local time) called on President Donald Trump to appear on national television and condemn his supporters after they breached the US Capitol amid violent protests.
Through war and strife, America has endured much. And we will endure here and prevail now. pic.twitter.com/OvNOV0ogWG
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 6, 2021
Distressed to see news about rioting and violence in Washington DC. Orderly and peaceful transfer of power must continue. The democratic process cannot be allowed to be subverted through unlawful protests.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 7, 2021
Canadians are deeply disturbed and saddened by the attack on democracy in the United States, our closest ally and neighbour. Violence will never succeed in overruling the will of the people. Democracy in the US must be upheld – and it will be.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 6, 2021
Democracy – the right of people to exercise a vote, have their voice heard and then have that decision upheld peacefully should never be undone by a mob. Our thoughts are with everyone who is as devastated as we are by the events of today. I have no doubt democracy will prevail.
— Jacinda Ardern (@jacindaardern) January 7, 2021
Buildings being evacuated included the Library of Congress’s Madison Building across from the Capitol as well as the Cannon House office building. In an alert sent to Hill staffers, police ordered occupants of the Madison building to “move in a safe manner to the exists” and “close doors behind you but do not lock”, reported The Hill.
Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser also announced a citywide curfew till 6 am ET, Thursday, following the violent protests.
“Today, I’m ordering a citywide curfew for the District of Columbia from 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 6, until 6:00 a.m. on Thursday, January 7,” she announced on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Electoral College certification vote has been paused following the breach of the Capitol building by protesters, and Vice President Pence was taken from the Senate chamber.
The development comes as scores of Republicans have pledged to challenge the Electoral College’s vote for Biden when Congress convenes for a joint session on Wednesday.
Trump has urged supporters to travel to Washington to protest the outcome, and state and federal officials are already bracing for clashes outside the Capitol. President-elect Biden’s inauguration is scheduled for January 20.
(With ANI inputs)