January 6: Timeline of events at the US Capitol
One year later, we took a look back at the events leading up to and after rioters invaded the US Capitol, ending in the deaths of five individuals.
Images from Washington DC on 6 January 2021 shocked viewers around the world, as one of the most prominent symbols of democracy was ransacked by rioters hoping to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. The events cast a stark warning of political extremism in the United States and what weakness in the face of far-right threats can lead to.
Even before the results of the election were confirmed, then-President Trump argued that the election was rigged and stolen. These claims were debunked time and time again but were spread far and wide on social media, where many believers in the conspiracy theory began planning their attack on the capital.
Leading up to the 6th
A few weeks before the insurrection on 18 December, Trump invited his supporters to a rally on the 6th when Congress would be in session to certify the results of the election. Called 'the March to Save America' Trump told his followers on social media that "it will be wild."
The New York Times reported that on January 2nd Trump began to support the idea of protestors walking to the Capitol after he gave his speech to pressure lawmakers to overturn the results of the election. On January 5ththe Norfolk Virginia office of the FBI released a report highlighting plans circulating on social media to storm the capitol building, detailing alarming messages in online threads, one of which read "Get violent. Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest. Go there ready for war. We get our President or we die. NOTHING else will achieve this goal."
Trump calls on VP Pence to overturn the results
Around noon on the 6th, Trump began his speech calling directly on Mike Pence to "stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country." Following us these comments with a bizarre warning, "And if you're not, I'm going to be very disappointed in you."
At the same time, Pence released a lengthy statement reassuring the American people that he would certify the election results. He said that he "shared the concern of millions over the integrity of the election," and would allow evidence to be presented, after which the "elected representatives of the American people would make their decision."
Congress gavels in to begin the certification process
At 1:00 pm protestors break down the first police barrier in front of the US Capitol.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi gaveled the House of Representatives into session at 1:05 pm.
At 1:30 pm Senator Mitch McConnell took to the floor in an attempt to convince his Republican colleagues to vote to certify, saying that this could set a dangerous precedent for the American democracy. He said that the vote to certify would be the most important vote cast in his career. He told his colleges, that if they vote to overturn, based on the "mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral, we would never see the whole nation expect an election again."
Rioters enter the Capitol Building
At 2:00 pm rioters began to enter the building and Secret Service ushers Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi off the floor of the chamber. The House enters a recess, and authorities begin to urge lawmakers to lockdown.
The borrowing images of Capitol Police office Eugene Goodman diverting an angry mob away from the Senate chambers, occurred around 2:20 pm as lawmakers still unsure of where to go are stuck in the chamber as the rioters begin to enter the building in mass.
Gas masks are distributed to lawmakers after tear gas was deployed in the rotunda. For the next hour or so, Democratic and Republican lawmakers made the public aware of what is going on, and some call on the President to call off the protestors.
Around 3:00 pm, the first death is reported when law enforcement shoots and kills Ashli Babbit who was attempting to climb through a broken window into the capitol.
Biden and Trump respond to the events on Capitol Hill
Between 4:00 and 4:30 pm, both President-elect Biden and Trump made statements. Biden called on Trump "to go on national television now, to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege. This is not a protest, it is an insurrection," Biden says.
Trump opted to send a video message out on social media, which has been condemned by many for its soft langue and bizarre language. "We love you, you're very special, you've seen what happens, you've seen the way others are treated ... I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace," he said in the short video posted around 4:17 pm.
Until around 6:00 pm, rioters broke into the offices of lawmakers, destroyed property, did drugs, and took selfies, then the building was finally cleared by police.
The House and Senate return to the chamber
After the building had been secured around 8:00 pm Pence opened the Senate session, once again. The House returns from their recess an hour later, and at almost 4:00 am on 7 January, the results for Joseph R. Biden to become the forty-sixth President were certified.