“Pro-Trump mob storms US Capitol as armed standoff takes place outside House chamber” is how CNN reported the violent protesters that stormed Capitol Hill and pushed their way into the Rotunda around 3 pm today.
Thousands of howling protesters clashed with Capitol police and other law-enforcement agents outside.
The mayhem started soon after 1 pm when US lawmakers, gathered to affirm the electoral votes declaring Joe Biden as president, started the formal process.
Donald Trump had addressed the protesters earlier in the day.
He repeated his allegations of voter fraud.
The mob needed little prodding. They had converged on Washington DC and had vowed to prevent Biden’s confirmation.
The mob included members of Proud Boys, a violent white supremacist extremist group, whose leader was arrested yesterday after setting fire to a Black Lives Matter banner.
In the standoff outside, the mob called the police “traitors”.
As the mob pushed its way inside the building smashing windows, Capitol Police kept withdrawing. Why, one wonders.
Congress was recessed and lawmakers were told “they may need to duck under their chairs… as the protesters were in the building’s Rotunda,” according to CNN.
Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from Capitol.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office was broken into and vandalized.
Some protesters were seen sitting at desks of members of congress rummaging through papers.
Trump had called upon Pence to block certification of Biden as president.
Pence, who was to perform his role, largely ceremonial, in the counting of electoral votes, declined to oblige.
He has no authority under the US constitution to overturn the electoral vote although several Republican lawmakers objected to the vote count from Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Both the House of Representatives and Senate had recessed to consider the objections when the mob stormed the chambers.
Some protesters managed to enter the Senate chamber and were taking pictures of themselves in front of empty seats. One protester even occupied the Senate speaker's chair for a while.
They broke doors and smashed windows. The mob also clashed with the police pushing them back. Yet, the police remained largely passive.
If it could be described in one word, “chaos” would be the best way to describe the situation in Congress.
Shots were fired and at least five people were reported injured including one law enforcement member.
Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser announced a citywide curfew from 6 pm ET today (Wednesday) until 6 am ET Thursday.
The US is little more than any despotic third world country today. In fact, even in despotic regimes, such mob violence is rare.
Another surprising thing about the mob violence is that law enforcement agencies have been extremely constrained.
No such constraint has ever been shown toward peaceful black protesters. They are shot and killed without even confronting the police.
In June 2020, when Black Lives Matter protesters converged on Washington DC, they were confronted by heavily armed National Guard. The Black Lives Matter protesters were peaceful and sat on the ground while the police and National Guard reacted violently.
White supremacists, however, are a different breed. They were violent and aggressive but the police did not challenge or confront them violently.
Even CNN was forced to show the contrasting footage of how Black Lives Matter protesters were assaulted and tear gassed in June 2020 but white supremacists on January 6, 2021 were allowed to do what they liked including smashing windows of the Capitol building and going all the way to the Senate floor.
The US is deeply divided, racist and is clearly falling apart.