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Congress goes on lockdown as pro-Trump rioters storm the Capitol building

Shocking events in the nation’s capital.

Congress goes on lockdown as pro-Trump rioters storm the Capitol building
A protester holds a Trump flag inside the US Capitol Building near the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden’s 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. [Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images]
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In the midst of discussions leading up to the counting of the electoral votes on Wednesday, pro-Trump demonstrators broke through four layers of security fencing and entered the Capitol building in a stunning escalation of aggression.

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Both houses of Congress abruptly stopped floor debate. In the House of Representatives, security people could be seen trying to restore order, and police could be seen moving by out in the hallway. Reports confirmed later that the House chamber had indeed been breached by a group of Trump supporters, one of whom yelled into the chamber “Trump won this election.”

Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence was escorted from the Senate Floor. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also left her seat in front of the House. Lawmakers were speedily escorted to secure locations within the Capitol Building.

Video footage shows Trump supporters battling with Capitol Police inside the capitol building. One demonstrator shot a fire extinguisher outside the Senate Chamber, as security people drew guns. Some Capitol Police officers had been attacked with tear gas by Trump supporters, and several have been injured. 

President Donald Trump gave a speech today at a “Stop the Steal” event that was widely promoted on social media. At the end of the speech, the president reportedly urged his supporters to converge on the Capitol. After the demonstrators converged on the Capitol Building, Trump sent out a tweet exhorting them to “support the Capitol Police and Law Enforcement.”

Beginning Monday, Trump supporters began gathering en masse in Washington, D.C., to protest the counting of the electoral votes that were already certified by the states, a process that is usually seen as ceremonial.

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The city of Washington had already called in National Guard troops to protect the public, but they were nowhere to be seen near the Capitol as the building was breached.

Today’s events are shocking, but seem less surprising through the lens of social media, which has been promoting today’s convergence on D.C., and the use of violence, for weeks.

Earlier today on the right-wing social media site Parler, many posters were promoting armed revolution in Washington.

About the author

Fast Company Senior Writer Mark Sullivan covers emerging technology, politics, artificial intelligence, large tech companies, and misinformation. An award-winning San Francisco-based journalist, Sullivan's work has appeared in Wired, Al Jazeera, CNN, ABC News, CNET, and many others.

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