The Aftermath of the Storming of the Capitol

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Protesters start to take over the Capitol building as police prepare to defend it. On Jan. 6th, a crowd of people protesting the election results breached the Capitol, staying there for almost four hours. “It could’ve gotten really bad really fast. If the police who were in the building hadn’t gotten lawmakers out of the way,” said history teacher Jennifer Staub.

Caitlin Treacy , Arts and Entertainment Editor

On January 6, 2021, a protest turned into a mob when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building. It started in the morning, when they gathered outside to hear the president speak. After his speech, the crowd stayed and got increasingly more rowdy and marched closer and closer to the Capitol as Congress prepared to confirm president-elect Joe Biden’s win. By around 2 p.m., they had breached the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to adjourn their meetings and take shelter. What followed was a mob that took over the building for more than four hours that resulted in vandalism and five deaths. As the nation grapples with what it just witnessed, prosecutors are trying to figure out what exactly happened.

Once inside the building, protesters took over, strolling into offices of Congress members, with some making their way into the Senate chamber. Capitol police struggled to resist them, but they were finally pushed out at around 6 p.m.

There were many acts of vandalism during the riot. “I was really, really fearful for all of the art and artifacts. The Capitol building isn’t just a place where lawmakers work, it’s also a museum, and it houses some of our most valuable paintings and documents and statues,” said HB history teacher Jennifer Staub. Many windows were broken, and offices were trashed, with papers scattered everywhere. One man even stole the Lecturn of the House speaker.

The five deaths that occurred at the capitol that day included Brian Sicknick, a Capitol police officer who was overtaken by protesters, and Ashli Babbit, a 35-year-old Trump supporter who was shot by an unidentified police officer when she tried to climb through a broken window that lead to the Speaker’s Lobby. Another member of the Capitol police force, named Howard Liebengood, died by suicide three days after the attack.

Over 125 people have been arrested in relation to the insurrection. This includes the man who was photographed sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, the “QAnon Shaman” who wore face paint and fur, A man who wore a shirt that said “Camp Auschwitz”, and multiple state lawmakers. QAnon followers, members of the far-right group Proud Boys, and online influencers (such as streamer Baked Alaska) were also in attendance. Many protesters there have been arrested because they posted on social media about the event.

There is still the question of who exactly were the protesters and what did they want to achieve on Jan. 6. In a report analyzing the social media posts of around 90 people arrested at the event, AP found that most were fervent Trump supporters. Many people have claimed that the protesters were actually antifa members posing as Trump supporters, but there is no evidence to support that claim.

Since the mob started as a protest, many of the people there didn’t plan on storming the Capitol building. However, there have been reports that members of the extremist militant group Oath Keepers allegedly coordinated before and during the attack

Initial statements from a multitude of political figures reacted to the attack. President-elect Biden called on the president to “demand an end to this siege”, while president Trump put out a video claiming that the election was stolen but told the protesters, “You have to go home now, we have peace.” However, in another video the day after, Trump called the mob “heinous”, and said that Congress had verified the results and that his “focus now turns to ensuring a smooth orderly and seamless transition of power.” Others, including former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, condemned the attack, with Bush saying, “This is how election results are disputed in a banana republic – not our democratic republic.”

In an unexpected move, Twitter permanently banned president Trump two days after the riot “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” Many other social media platforms followed suit, such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Threats from more armed protesters were still looming, with talks of people planning to protest again at their state capitols before Biden’s inauguration. But the protests stayed small amid heavy police presence caused by anticipation of these protests. The long-term effects of this event are unknown, but many believe that Congress will take action with legislation or funding to prevent threats from extremist groups. For now, people across the country are still wondering how something like this could happen. Go to the Washington Post’s visual timeline of the event for a clearer look at what happened.