Praveen Yadav | Nov 14, 2021 | 0
US Capitol Hill incident shock the world democracies
Ex-US President Donald Trump’s relentless efforts of spreading hatred, fake news, and lies to reverse the results of the 2020 election took a dangerous turn on 6th January, when an armed and angry mob of Trump’s supporters stormed Capitol Hill and clashed with police just as Congress convened to validate Joe Biden’s presidential win.
A 2,000-member department controlled by the federal government, they are tasked with keeping the Capitol building and the people inside it safe from any threats. But on Wednesday, Americans watched in horror as a mob of Trump supporters streamed into the building, breached barricades and advanced into the halls of the Capitol building, smashing windows forcing Congress to evacuate and leaving a woman fatally shot dead. And now everyone from ordinary Americans to members of Congress is asking the same question: How did the police let this happen? This is widely being considered one of the worst security breaches in US history.
Trump and his supporters had been publicly voicing plans for a “wild” protest in Washington on January 6. And ahead of Wednesday, Capitol Police had told members of Congress that they had a plan for enhanced security. In late December, Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki told Roll Call that the department “has comprehensive security plans in place and we continuously monitor and assess new and emerging threats.”
But as Trump supporters smashed windows and stormed the Capitol, it soon became clear the building’s police force was severely outmatched. Save for a midnight shift change, the entire Capitol Police force around 1,500 officers was on duty Wednesday, Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), who chairs the Legislative Branch Appropriations Committee, the panel with oversight over Capitol Police, told Vox in a Thursday interview. Additionally, 1,000 DC police officers were on duty near the Capitol area Wednesday. In a statement on Thursday, Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said more than 50 Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan police had sustained injuries some of them serious. Ryan said 15 officers were hospitalized and one is in critical condition.
WHAT HAPPENED EXACTLY?
The Capitol in Washington DC was placed under lockdown Wednesday after hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the historic building and wreaked havoc in an attempt to stall the certification of the election results. A raucous group of demonstrators many of whom were waving ‘Trump 2020’ flags and wearing T-shirts and hats with the president’s signature ‘Keep America Great’ tagline printed entered the second-floor lobby of the building right outside the Senate chamber, the doors of which were being guarded by law enforcement officials.
The mob managed to get past the guards and enter the Senate chamber, where just moments earlier the election results were being certified. According to the Guardian, one of the rioters was seen climbing up on the dais and yelling, “Trump won that election.” The protesters roamed through the halls freely, some even entering and looting the offices used by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers. But the lawmakers from the Senate and the House of Representatives had already been evacuated. The Trump supporters stopped to take photographs and film themselves as they made their way around the building. Videos show people breaking windows and pushing past barricades to forcefully enter rooms and offices in the Capitol.
Four hours after the breach, officials announced that the demonstrators had been cleared out of the building and the Capitol was secure. Senators were escorted back into the Senate chamber to complete the certification of electoral college votes. At least four people died in the attack, including one woman who was shot in the chest and killed inside the Capitol building, CNN reported. According to Washington DC police, another woman and two men died in separate medical emergencies.
POLICE SUPPORTED CROWD..!?
Some lawmakers were furious that the nation’s Capitol could be so easily invaded. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called for Steven Sund’s(Capitol police chef) resignation on Thursday, adding that the chief hadn’t yet called her to discuss the security breach at the Capitol. “There was a failure of leadership with the Capitol Police,” Pelosi said. “He hasn’t even called us since this happened,” Ryan added he had been told that the DC National Guard, DC Metro police, and SWAT teams would all be engaged in preparation for the day. (The Capitol Police are separate from the DC police that patrol the rest of the city.) In reality, there were videos of police standing by or reacting slowly as Trump supporters got closer to the Capitol. It was a stark contrast to the show of force from police during this summer’s protests against police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd killing or even Capitol Police arresting peaceful protesters with disabilities during a 2017 health care bill negotiation on the Hill.
The answers for what went wrong are likely to be the subject of investigation in the weeks and months to come. Ryan told reporters flatly that he expected people to be fired over the incident. Lawmakers echoed the shock of many Americans at the apparent collapse of law enforcement authority over what is usually one of the country’s most heavily guarded buildings. “I cannot believe this is happening in the US Capitol,” Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) told reporters on Wednesday, speaking from a secure and undisclosed location where she and other senators were being kept safe.
AFTER THE INCIDENT
After four years of using social media platforms to bypass traditional media and spread his message directly to millions of people, President Donald Trump is now losing his digital bully pulpit. On Friday, Twitter banned Trump’s account for violating the company’s policy against the glorification of violence. The move effectively strips Trump of his preferred social network, which he’d used throughout his presidency to bypass traditional media and direct his message to his tens of millions of followers.
A day earlier, Facebook (FB) and Instagram banned Trump’s account from posting for at least the remainder of his term in office and perhaps “indefinitely” in the wake of the riot on the US Capitol. Other large platforms, including Twitch and Snapchat, also blocked the president’s account. And e-commerce platform Shopify shut down shops run by the Trump campaign and the Trump Organization.
Some advocacy groups cheered the potential immediate impact of these moves on a president known for spreading misinformation on social media, especially as it comes at a volatile moment for the nation. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, called the ban an “excellent step” by Twitter and “a fitting end to a legacy of spewing hate and vitriol.”
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