Copyright © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society. Copyright © 2015-2019 National Geographic Partners, LLC. All rights reserved

Terrifying pictures show chaos as mob storms U.S. Capitol

Surreal scenes were on display in Washington as mobs breached the Capitol Building and interrupted the vote to certify the 2020 presidential election.

By David Beard
Published 6 Jan 2021, 23:00 GMT
View gallery fullscreen

On Wednesday the U.S. Capitol became the site of an insurrection, as a mob supporting President Donald Trump breached the building’s security and shut down proceedings to certify Trump’s defeat and the election of Joe Biden.

A Trump campaign flag was being flown from the Capitol’s gallery, and a Confederate flag was unfurled outside the Senate chambers. Tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.

Both Republicans and Democrats urged Trump to direct the protesters to quit. His former chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney tweeted: “The President's tweet is not enough. He can stop this now and needs to do exactly that. Tell these folks to go home.”

Biden, in a nationwide speech, also urged Trump to end this. “Think of what the rest of the world is looking at,” Biden said.

Trump eventually did make an address via Twitter stating protestors had 'to go home now' – whilst simultaneously repeating his unsubstantiated claims the election was rigged.

Lawmakers sealed themselves off from the protesters, who roamed hallways, smashed windows, and destroyed property. D.C. police said they were responding to reports of pipe bombs across Washington, D.C. A woman inside the Capitol was shot in the chest, CNN reported. The entire D.C. National Guard was being activated, the New York Times reports. Vice President Mike Pence, who had been poised to certify the November vote, was in an undisclosed location.

Lawmakers captured a terrifying scene with many Democrats assailing Trump for provoking his supporters to attempt what some called an overthrow of the federal government. In the House Chambers, .Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) tweeted that he’s had been “instructed to lie down on the floor and put on our gas masks. Chamber security and Capitol Police have their guns drawn as protesters bang on the front door of the chamber.”

The Capitol has been the site of violence over the years. It was the target of 9/11 bombers, but the hijacked jetliner flying toward it was downed in rural Pennsylvania. In 1971, the antiwar group the Weather Underground exploded a bomb on the Senate side of the Capitol, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage, but no casualties. In 1954, four armed Puerto Rican nationalists fired from the House gallery, wounding five House members.