D.C. Orders 6 p.m. Curfew to Restore Order After Chaos at U.S. Capitol

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington.

Trump supporters try to break through a police barrier, Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. AP Photo/Julio Cortez

 

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By evening the Capitol building was secure, after a pro-Trump mob broke in earlier in the day.

Throngs of President Trump’s supporters breached security, forcing their way into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday to protest his loss of the presidential election—a stunning display that forced both chambers of Congress into lockdown and led Washington D.C.’s mayor to order a 6 p.m. curfew in a bid to restore order on the District’s streets.

Thousands of demonstrators had gathered Wednesday for rallies across the country to support the president, but the surreal scene in Washington, D.C. occurred as senators debated the certification of the presidential election results. Trump lost the popular and electoral college vote but has continued to dispute the results, and vowed to “never concede” when he spoke at a rally earlier in the day in D.C.

Hours later, a mob broke through barricades around the Capitol and forced their way to the floor of the Senate. Photos and videos taken by various reporters inside the U.S. Capitol show rioters setting off fire extinguishers, waving Confederate flags, and rifling through lawmakers’ offices. D.C. police confirmed that one woman was fatally shot by law enforcement during the siege, but declined to identify the agency that employs the officer. 

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered the curfew as part of efforts to rein in the chaos and issued a public emergency declaration that gives her the authority to enact nightly curfews through Jan. 21. She called the day’s events “shameful” and “unpatriotic” and said any non-essential workers caught out after 6 p.m. could face arrest. 

“Anyone who has engaged in these activities, continues to engage in these activities, will be held accountable,” Bowser said. “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”

In addition to enforcing the curfew on D.C. streets, the Metropolitan Police Department led the effort to clear the U.S. Capitol, said D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. 

As of 9:30 p.m., Contee said police had made 52 arrests and confiscated six firearms, two pipe bombs and a cooler containing materials for making molotov cocktails.  Fourteen MPD officers were injured during the day’s events, including two who remained hospitalized Wednesday night. 

Bowser said police would be issuing lookout notifications seeking to identify people who breached the capitol building. Contee said most of those who had been arrested Wednesday were charged with curfew violations. He declined to discuss what charges others arrested after the fact could face. 

The D.C. National Guard was deployed to help restore order. Neighboring Virginia and Maryland deployed their own National Guard members and state police to D.C. to assist. 

“All Americans should be outraged by this attack on our nation’s capital,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said, announcing the deployment. “This is a heinous and violent assault on the heart of our democracy. I will not stand for this, and neither should any American.”

Around the country, pro-Trump protests broke out at statehouses but remained relatively peaceful.

 President-elect Joe Biden, who is set to be sworn in Jan. 20, said the rioting at the U.S. Capitol “borders on sedition” and called on Trump to urge his supporters to peacefully go home.   

“It’s not protest. It’s insurrection,” Biden said, speaking from Wilmington, Delaware.  

Trump later posted a video message on Twitter, telling rioters “we love you” but asking them to leave the Capitol and return home.

“We had an election that was stolen from us,” Trump said, repeating the unsubstantiated claims. “This was a fraudulent election. But we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace now. So, go home, we love you. You are very special.”

By Wednesday night, authorities had regained control of the U.S. Capitol and lawmakers resumed their work certifying the electoral college results. 

This story has been updated.

Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent with Route Fifty.

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