The U.S. was left reeling and in shock following the U.S. Capitol Building’s storming in Washington D.C. The incident, which involved more than hundreds of people, including armed extremists, took place on January 6, 2021.
The tragic events led to the arrest of more than 150 activists and the death of four people. Those involved were predominantly supporters of Donald Trump. They had gathered in the nation’s capital to protest against the U.S. Congress meeting to confirm Joe Biden as the new president.
The incident followed a more extensive “Save America” gathering near the White House. This gathering, numbering thousands of people, was addressed by President Trump, who urged his supporters to “take back our country.”
Trump’s statements helped stir-up the crowd, many of whom made their way to the Capitol Building. On arrival, the chanting crowd was confronted by police who had erected metal barricades around the building. Grappling broke out between the crowd and police officers.
The police used tear gas and pepper spray in an attempt to keep the crowd at bay. However, they could not maintain control, and the group broke through the barricades on multiple fronts.
Once inside the building, the mob headed for the House and Senate chambers. Lawmakers were in the middle of confirming Joe Biden as the next U.S. President. However, they were forced to abandon the process and flee or take shelter. Security officers closed and locked the doors to the House chamber, erecting makeshift barricades to keep the intruders out.
A nationwide terrorism alert was declared by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) following the assault on the Capitol. A representative cited the domestic threat from extremists opposed to the government and president-elect Joe Biden as justification for the nationwide alert.
A Homeland Security spokesperson stated that they had information suggesting violent activists, people motivated by extreme ideology, and those with grievances about the election outcome could be encouraged by false narratives into committing violent acts. A bulletin issued by the National Terrorism Advisory System highlighted the threat of attack, stating that it is likely to remain following the successful presidential inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20. However, they also declared that the DHS had no information indicating a specific credible plot.
The alert continued by noting that smaller-scale riots and demonstrations had continued recently, as individuals and groups continued to vent their frustrations with the government and political situation. It is believed that these demonstrations could continue to attract a wide range of ideologically-motivated activists determined to cause violence.
As well as Donald Trump’s defeat to Joe Biden, other factors fuelling discontent in the nation are COVID-19 restrictions, immigration, and police brutality. The DHS believes these frustrations could remain in place for several months. The department has pleaded with the public to stay calm and report any suspicious activity they see or threats of violence they experience.