There’s a reason the Capitol Building looks the way it does. Its domineering size, stoic arches, and giant dome are all there for a purpose. It’s to tell everyone, every tourist, every senator, every representative, that this is a place in which lies Democracy. Even the President of the United States is meant to be intimidated when approaching the Capitol Building, their eyes looking up and up and up until they reach the top of the dome. It is a building that is more powerful than anyone who has ever sat inside of it. It is the seat of the country, the heart of democracy and the free world. Today, it was compromised.
Hundreds of people marched from a Trump rally down Pennsylvania Avenue, gathering outside the Capitol Building, then breaching the steps and walking into the building. Reportedly, the crowd used tear gas in order to gain access. Once inside, they sat in the offices of Congress, rummaging through desks on the Senate floor, one man sitting in the chair reserved for the Speaker of the House. A rally turned into a protest, then a riot.
At least one explosive device has been found on the Capitol grounds, with a number of other suspicious packages being investigated and contained. Members of Congress were evacuated to other congressional buildings, where the representatives have been under a lock-down all day. The response from law enforcement has been mixed, with some being friendly towards the crowd (a video had been taken showing one uniformed officer posing for selfies). On the other hand, at least one protestor has been shot and injured by law enforcement, and tear gas has been used to contain the crowd.
Trump’s role in the riot was as instigator, encouraging the crowd to move from the rally to the Capitol Building, saying “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol,” then returning to the White House. From there, he tacitly supported the riot, encouraging his supporters to “stay safe.” After multiple hours, he released a (one minute) pre-recorded message reaffirming his false claim that the election was stolen from him. He did ask the rioters to “go home,” however he still showed support for them, saying “we love you, you’re very special.” The video was tagged by Twitter as false, and “can’t be replied to, Retweeted, or liked due to a risk of violence.”
President-elect Biden, whose electoral college victory was being certified before today’s events, responded to the riot, saying that democracy is under an “unprecedented assault,” and calling for the crowd to leave the Capitol. After he was finished with his speech, he turned to the press and said, simply, “enough is enough is enough is enough.”