UK

How the MAGA mob stormed Capitol Hill

In the wake of Wednesday’s insurrection on Capitol Hill, when thousands of Trump supporters made a mockery of police by storming the building with weapons, seemingly unchallenged, and four people died, one resounding question remains: how was it allowed to happen?

Most of the rioters had been at Trump’s White House rally at noon but there had been talks on right-wing niche websites about ‘storming’ the Capitol for days. 

Despite those early indicators and the fact that Trump and his supporters have angrily contested the election result for two months,by 2pm on Wednesday thousands had descended on the Capitol with weapons and the Capitol Police force – which only has 2,300 officers in total – was frantically requesting back up.

It wasn’t until 3.51pm – nearly four hours after Trump spoke at the rally – that 1,100 armed National Guardsmen were finally mobilized. Five thousand more from neighboring states were drafted in but they were inexplicably told to stage outside the Capitol and not go to the center of the action to help.

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser had requested National Guard support from Tuesday to Thursday on New Year’s Eve, but she was only given 340 unarmed troops whose job was to help with traffic. It’s unclear if she pushed back and asked for more, or why so few were supplied. On Thursday, she shrugged the blame and said Capitol Police should have requested their own back up.

The comparatively few cops on Capitol Hill were gravely outnumbered. Videos have emerged showing some officers assisting some of the rioters down the steps of the Capitol building, standing aside as crowds rush past them and even running away in fear from them up flights of stairs. 

Those images stand in stark contrast to the stealthy response shown from the police during the BLM protests of the summer. Only 80 people have been arrested and the police are asking for public help to identify dozens of others.  In June, 289 were arrested during a single night of BLM protests. 

Now, outraged Americans are demanding answers as to why more was not done to stop the crowds and prevent the first attempted government coup since 1814. 

Scroll down for video 

Shortly before 2pm, the rioters descended on Capitol Hill while lawmakers were inside certifying the vote. Over the next two hours, the violence escalated. Some broke into politicians’ offices, tauntingly sat at their desks and left threatening notes. One of the protesters was shot dead by cops (bottom right) 

Video stills show how the cops were completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd. They breezed past them before storming into the Capitol building

Video stills show how the cops were completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd. They breezed past them before storming into the Capitol building

Video stills show how the cops were completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the crowd. They breezed past them before storming into the Capitol building

A frightened and outnumbered Capitol Hill cop cowers as the mob rushes towards him on Wednesday

A frightened and outnumbered Capitol Hill cop cowers as the mob rushes towards him on Wednesday 

An outnumbered Capitol Police officer  inside the Capitol building as Trump supporters storm the building

An outnumbered Capitol Police officer  inside the Capitol building as Trump supporters storm the building

A Capitol Police officer runs away from the MAGA mob after they breached the building with little resistance

A Capitol Police officer runs away from the MAGA mob after they breached the building with little resistance 

Soft touch: A Trump rioter is escorted by the hand down the steps of the Capitol Building by a cop in riot gear while others stand back and watch the chaos unfold

Soft touch: A Trump rioter is escorted by the hand down the steps of the Capitol Building by a cop in riot gear while others stand back and watch the chaos unfold

Just before the U.S. Capitol building is breached, the Capitol Police are hit with bear spray while trying to keep the protestors outside

Just before the U.S. Capitol building is breached, the Capitol Police are hit with bear spray while trying to keep the protestors outside

Posing for pics: Police in the Capitol are seen agreeing to take selfie pictures with members of the MAGA mob who stormed the center of US democracy

Posing for pics: Police in the Capitol are seen agreeing to take selfie pictures with members of the MAGA mob who stormed the center of US democracy

Capitol Hill police face tough questions on why more was not done to prepare for the chaos. 

At a press conference on Thursday, Mayor Bowser said ‘clearly’ there had been ‘a failure’ but she blamed it on the varying jurisdictions between DC Metropolitan Police Department and Capitol Police. 

 ‘Our federal partners let us down’

DC Attorney General Karl Racine 

‘There is going to be a lot of time for us to figure out what happened.

‘Obviously, it was a failure or you wouldn’t have had police lines breached and people terrorizing members of congress and doing a sacred constitutional requirement. 

‘Clearly there was a failure. There’s going to have to be a real investigation into what happened,’ she said.

She shrugged responsibility for the policing failure, saying it was down to Capitol Police and not MPD – which she is in charge of – to prepare for it. 

‘The Capitol have their own police departments. 

Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund defended his officers as 'valiant' but said a review would be carried out

Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund defended his officers as ‘valiant’ but said a review would be carried out

‘We cannot decide for the Capitol that we are going to be their police department but we stand ready to assist them in any case,’ she said. 

She didn’t say why MPD officers weren’t there to begin with. 

Capitol Police say they called in MPD officers after the rioters staged their coup at 2pm. 

In a statement, Chief Steven A. Sund defended his officers’ efforts as ‘valiant’ but said the force was going to carry out a review of what went wrong.

‘United States Capitol Police officers and our law enforcement partners responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in riotous actions as they stormed the United States Capitol Building.

‘These individuals actively attacked United States Capitol Officers and other uniformed law enforcement officers with metal pipes, discharged chemical irritants and took up other weapons against our officers. 

‘They were determined to enter into Capitol Building by causing great damage.

TIMELINE OF THE CHAOS

6AM:  Crowds start to gather for Trump rally that is scheduled for 10am 

On December 19, Trump told his fans on Twitter to gather in Washington DC. He said: ‘Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, be wild! 

They gathered peacefully in their thousands outside the White House to first wish Eric Trump a Happy Birthday, and then head from the President himself. 

11.50am: Trump speaks at Save America Rally, promises to walk with crowd down to the Capitol

In a long, sermon-like speech that went on for more than an hour, Trump told his fans that he’d walk with them.  At that stage, there was no mention of violence. 

‘And after this, we’re going to walk down there, and I’ll be there with you, we’re going to walk down … to the Capitol and we are going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women,’ he said. 

He did not, however, walk with with them as promised. 

1pm: Lawmakers gather in the House chamber to certify Biden’s election win 

1.10pm: Rioters arrive at the Capitol building and start clashing with police. 

At 1.26pm, Capitol police order the evacuations of Library of Congress, Madison Building and Cannon House Office Building but not the House chamber 

1.40pm: D.C. Mayor Muriel Bows orders a 6pm curfew but does nothing to address the escalating situation at the Capitol. 

Meanwhile, Capitol police request back-up.  

2.11pm: The rioters scale the walls of the Capitol. Vice President Mike Pence is evacuated from the House chamber moments later. 

2.39pm: Videos and photographs emerge showing rioters smashing the windows of the Capitol building 

2.47pm: Rioters are seen at the dais

2.53pm: Congress is removed from the Chamber in breathing masks and escape hoods 

3:51 p.m. The District of Columbia National Guard, about 1,100 troops, is mobilized to support local law enforcement.

6pm: Washington DC curfew begins, many ignore it to stay put 

8pm: Lawmakers return to the Chamber to certify Biden win 

‘The violent attack on the US Capitol is unlike any I have ever experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington DC. Maintaining public safety in an open environment – specifically First Amendment activities – has long been a challenge.’ 

He added that the force had a ‘robust plan’ to respond to peaceful protests. 

‘The USCP had a robust plan established to address anticipated First Amendement activities. But make no mistake – these mass riots were notFirst Amendment activities; they were criminal riotous behavior. The actions of the USCP officers were heroic given the situation they faced and I continue to have tremendous respect in the professionalism and dedication of the women and men of the United States Capitol Police.

‘The USCP is conducting a thorough review of this incident, security planning and policies and procedures.’  

It wasn’t until 3.51pm that 1,100 National Guard troops were scrambled to assist Capitol police.  By then, a Trump supporter had been shot and killed as she tried to breach the building. 

The decision was eventually made by acting defense secretary Christopher C. Miller but it’s unclear why he and everyone else waited so long. 

Additional National Guard troops from Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware were put on standby but it’s also unclear why they weren’t told to go straight to the Capitol to help.  

On December 31, Mayor Bowser submitted a request for National Guard troops to be in the city from January 5-January 7. 

She cited Trump’s rally as the reason and the fact that it had been timed to coincide with the certification of the vote. 

But Bowser was only given 340 unarmed troops to assist with traffic control. 

On Monday, at a press conference, she vowed not to let rioters take over the city or cause violence but she said nothing about needing extra help from the National Guard. 

Acting DC  Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee also said that he knew ‘armed’ protesters were due to form large crowds   

‘There are people intent on coming to our city armed. Some of our intelligence certainly suggests there will be increased crowd sizes,’ he said. 

Still, nothing was done to beef up the response. 

On Thursday morning, DC Attorney General Karl Racine said they’d been ‘let down’ by federal partners. 

Speaking on MSNBC, he said: ‘D.C. law enforcement officers, frankly, they did their jobs. 

‘They helped the Capitol Police restore order and arrested folks pursuant to the curfew order that Mayor Bowser invoked. 

‘Our federal partners let us down.’

He also called for a ‘full accounting’ and investigation of the Capitol breach.

‘That means FBI, the videotapes, the photos, the social media — go ahead and fully investigate and fully prosecute those who terrorized the Capitol,’ he said. 

For days before Wednesday’s chaos, the rioters were openly discussing their plans to overtake the Capitol or the very least incite violence. 

On niche websites like TheDonald, Trump fans told one another to ‘bring guns’ to the Capitol to fight the certification of Joe Biden’s election win.  

‘All this bulls**t about not bringing guns to D.C. needs to stop. 

‘This is America. F*** D.C. it’s in the Constitution. Bring your goddamn guns,’ said one post which received more than 5,000 ‘upvotes’. 

Jared Holt, a visiting research fellow with DFRLab, told BuzzFeed on Wednesday: ‘Extremists have for weeks repeatedly expressed their intentions to attend the January 6 protests, and unabashedly voiced their desire for chaos and violence online. 

‘What we’ve witnessed is the manifestation of that violent online rhetoric into real-life danger.

A pipe bomb was left outside the RNC on Wednesday

A pipe bomb was left outside the RNC on Wednesday 

‘The earliest call we got on our radar for today specifically was a militia movement chatroom talking about being “ready for blood” if things didn’t start changing for Trump.’ 

Former DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey was among the many incredulous voices on Wednesday as he watched the situation unfold.  

‘How they were not ready for this today, I have no idea. 

‘They were overwhelmed, they did not have the resources. You have to be able to protect the Capitol. That is not OK.’ 

Earlier, he said in an interview with CNN: ‘There’s no way they should have gotten into that building in my opinion, but we’ll look into that later that’s kind of like the hogwash after the event. 

‘Right now, they’ve got to retake the capitol and they’re going to have to do it using force.

‘Anybody inside that building as far as I’m concerned ought to be face down in handcuffs right now,’ he added.

‘That’s what they ought to be doing. I don’t know what they’re doing in there, but they need to be locking them up without question.’

‘There’s chatter on the internet now about occupy DC so I don’t know whether this is part of it or not but they’re going to have to be on high alert. 

‘They’re not going to be able to let these people establish camps or anything like that, but their next challenge will be on January 20 on inauguration day but in the meantime these next couple of days are going to be pretty dicey.’

 ‘The Capitol Police were unprepared for the sheer size of the protest… [they] were overwhelmed and couldn’t respond quickly enough

 David Gomez, a retired FBI executive

He added that hoped Biden counter protesters would not emerge on Wednesday night so that the rest of the demonstrations could continue more peacefully.

‘I mean this is a mess, so they’d better establish control as soon as possible,’ Ramsey continued.

‘Let me tell you it’s not going to be pretty, they’re going to have to use physical force to get these folks moving and out of there but they’ve got to take back the Capitol there’s no two ways about it.’ 

A former FBI Executive also said the police were ‘unprepared’. 

‘The Capitol Police were unprepared for the sheer size of the protest. Up until they breached the Capitol, the possibility existed that it was going to be a large protest that didn’t cross those barricades.  

Supporters of President Donald Trump breech the U.S. Capitol as election results are to be certified in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 after breezing past cops

Supporters of President Donald Trump breech the U.S. Capitol as election results are to be certified in Washington DC on January 6, 2021 after breezing past cops

Capitol Police turn their backs to the mob on Wednesday as thousands descend on the Capitol Building

Capitol Police turn their backs to the mob on Wednesday as thousands descend on the Capitol Building

Capitol Police turn their backs to the mob on Wednesday as thousands descend on the Capitol Building 

Trump rioters scale the walls of the US Capitol Building after storming past police

Trump rioters scale the walls of the US Capitol Building after storming past police 

Demonstrators break TV equipment outside the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington

Demonstrators break TV equipment outside the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. As Congress prepares to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands of people have gathered to show their support for President

A supporters of President Donald Trump takes a seat holding a shield outside the Senate Chamber as violence erupted at the Capitol

A supporters of President Donald Trump takes a seat holding a shield outside the Senate Chamber as violence erupted at the Capitol 

Richard 'Bigo' Barnett puts feet up on Nancy Pelosi's desk after breaking into the Capitol

Richard ‘Bigo’ Barnett puts feet up on Nancy Pelosi’s desk after breaking into the Capitol 

Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed inside the US Capitol

Paramedics tend to Babbit moments after she was shot inside the Capitol on Wednesday

Ashli Babbitt was shot and killed inside the US Capitol when Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the building and violently clashed with police in a bid to stop Joe Biden’s victory being certified

‘Once they did that [law enforcement personnel] were overwhelmed and couldn’t respond quickly enough,’ David Gomez, a retired FBI executive, told The Wall Street Journal. 

RIOTERS PLANNED COUP ON SOCIAL MEDIA DAYS BEFORE THE SIEGE 

For days before Wednesday’s chaos, the rioters were openly discussing their plans to overtake the Capitol or the very least incite violence. 

On niche websites like TheDonald, Trump fans told one another to ‘bring guns’ to the Capitol to fight the certification of Joe Biden’s election win. 

‘All this bulls**t about not bringing guns to D.C. needs to stop.  

‘This is America. F*** D.C. it’s in the Constitution. Bring your goddamn guns,’ said one post which received more than 5,000 ‘upvotes’. 

Jared Holt, a visiting research fellow with DFRLab, told BuzzFeed on Wednesday: ‘Extremists have for weeks repeatedly expressed their intentions to attend the January 6 protests, and unabashedly voiced their desire for chaos and violence online. 

‘What we’ve witnessed is the manifestation of that violent online rhetoric into real-life danger.

‘The earliest call we got on our radar for today specifically was a militia movement chatroom talking about being “ready for blood” if things didn’t start changing for Trump.’ 

Parler, which calls itself a ‘free speech network’ also saw talk of the violence. 

Daniel Jones, President of Advance Democracy, told USA Today on Wednesday: ‘We are seeing significant volumes of rhetoric online. 

‘And we’re seeing this rhetoric – fueled by President Trump’s voter fraud claims – across all social media platforms.’ 

But it’s unclear if any of the websites informed the authorities about the high level of rhetoric or their concerns.   

Larry Schaefer, a retired Capitol Police veteran, told Pro Publica that he was baffled by the response.  

‘It’s not a spur-of-the-moment demonstration that just popped up. 

‘We have a planned, known demonstration that has a propensity for violence in the past and threats to carry weapons — why would you not prepare yourself as we have done in the past?’ he asked. 

On Thursday morning, political pundits and commentators across the board raged at Capitol Police and DC officials for allowing the chaos to escalate so gravely. 

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough fumed on Morning Joe: ‘I’ve got no questions for Donald Trump, he’s an insurrectionist, there are no questions, he should be arrested today, he should be sent to jail today for insurrection against the United States of America.

‘But I do wonder this morning why they weren’t better prepared for this? Why weren’t the Capitol Hill police better prepared for this?

‘I never complained when they were tough, I want them to protect the people’s house!  

‘Yesterday, we see them patting terrorists on the back, we see them taking selfies with people who are committing and insurrection against the United States of America, politely opening the door for terrorists who had scrawled on the door ‘murder the media,’ who had broken through this glass?

‘Letting them just walk through, letting these Trump supporters walk through freely.

‘And politely opening doors. To the insurrectionists. 

‘There has to be an investigation. 

‘How many of these Capitol Hill cops are members of Donald Trump’s cult? How many? How many allowed this to happen? And I do want to know, where the hell were the D.C. police? 

‘If these insurrectionists were black, they would have been shot in the face. And my God, if these insurrections had been were Muslim, they would have been sniped from the tops of buildings. 

‘So I want to know from the Capitol Hill police, what is it, just white people? Or is it Donald Trump supporters? 

‘Why do you scream at people for walking across the street three blocks away from the capitol? 

‘Why are you known as bada**es around the capitol, but then Trump supporters come in and you hold open the f*****g doors for them? 

‘You open the doors for them? And let them breach the people’s house! What is wrong with you? ‘ 

Rep. Tim Ryan said that he believed there were some ‘strategic mistakes from the very beginning’ after videos emerged on social media that appeared to show officers taking aside barriers for demonstrators and even taking selfies with them.

He promised that Capitol Police would face imminent firings for the ’embarrassment’ that was their response to the ‘attempted coup’.  

‘I think it’s pretty clear that there’s going to be a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon,’ Ryan said, ‘because this is an embarrassment — both on behalf of the mob and the president, and the insurrection and the attempted coup, but also the lack of professional planning and dealing with what we knew was going to occur.’

‘You can bet your a** that we’re going to get to the bottom of it,’ the Ohio Democrat added.

A protester sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump

A protester sits in the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump

A supporter of President Donald Trump carries a Confederate battle flag on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol near the entrance to the Senate after breaching security defenses, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021

A supporter of President Donald Trump carries a Confederate battle flag on the second floor of the U.S. Capitol near the entrance to the Senate after breaching security defenses, in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the US Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, 2021. - Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather on the West side of the US Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, 2021. – Demonstrators breached security and entered the Capitol as Congress debated the a 2020 presidential election Electoral Vote Certification

Source link

Back to top button