While Congress convened on January 6th, 2021, to certify the results of the 2020 presidential elections that officially declares President-Elect Joseph R. Biden as the winner, outgoing President Donald J. Trump held a simultaneous rally in an attempt to discredit those results.
From behind a bulletproof glass shield at the Ellipse, a park south of the White House, President Trump told hundreds of his supporters that “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave Senators and Congressmen and women,” and encouraged the crowd to “show strength” and “be strong” in their demonstration. Despite implying that he would walk with his supporters in this demonstration, Trump retreated to the White House after his speech.
After the President’s rally at the Ellipse, the armed protesters marched to the Capitol Grounds where a police barricade separated them from the U.S. Capitol. However, the Capitol Police found themselves outnumbered and at 2:07 pm (EST), the President’s supporters breached the barricade.
In one image captured by Mike Theiler of Reuters, a protester carries a Confederate flag through the halls of the Capitol. Meanwhile, in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, Saul Loeb of the American Free Press photographed Trump supporter Richard Barnett sitting in the Speaker’s chair with his boot upon her desk. According to NBC News, 60-year-old Barnett has now been “taken into custody in his home state [of Arkansas] on federal charges of entering and remaining on restricted grounds, violent entry and theft of public property” two days after the siege of the Capitol.
Less than ten minutes after the protesters breached the Capitol, Huffington Post reporter Igor Bobic recorded a video at the scene as the first wave of protesters made their way through. In this video, a lone Black Capitol security guard can be seen trying to fend off an all-white group of protesters. When the protesters show no signs of retreating, the guard runs back up the stairs while being chased. Only when the guard reaches the second floor is he joined by more security.
Even then, the handful of Capitol police on the second floor were soon overwhelmed by the mass of armed protesters. This violent protest proved deadly for one Capitol Police Officer, Brian D. Sicknick, who died from injuries sustained “while physically engaging” with pro-Trump supporters inside the Capitol. A member of the Capitol Police since 2008, Officer Sicknick’s death is currently being investigated by the DC Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide branch.
In addition to Officer Sicknick, four other people died as a result of the violence in the Capitol that day. Protester Ashli Babbit, a 35-year-old Trump supporter from San Diego, California, was “fatally shot by a US Capitol Police employee as the mob tried to force its way toward the House Chamber where members of Congress were sheltering,” CNN reports.
Another pro-Trump protester, Kevin Greeson, 55-years-old, was reported to have “suffered a heart attack amid the excitement” during the riot, his family told CNN. The other two fatalities from the siege of the Capitol, 50-year-old Benjamin Phillips and 34-year-old Rosanne Boyland, are also reported to have died as a result of medical emergencies.
For many Americans, the U.S. Capitol building is a stalwart symbol of our democracy. In the wake of this attack on free and fair elections, it also serves as a reminder of the inequality that minority protesters, especially in the case of Black Lives Matter, face compared to the largely white protesters who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. According to the Boston Globe, “More than 300 [Black Lives Matter protesters] were arrested on June 1, 2020” compared to the 82 people arrested, so far, in connection with January 6th protests.
In a statement from the Black Lives Global Network, the group noted how “When Black people protest for our lives, we are all too often met by National Guard troops or police equipped with assault rifles, shields, tear gas and battle helmets… Make no mistake, if the protesters (in the Capitol) were Black, [they] would have been tear gassed, battered, and perhaps shot.”
Photos: Her Campus Media