Trump supporters storm Capitol building

The+Capitol+building%2C+which+was+breached+for+the+first+time+in+over+200+years+by+a+mob+of+pro-Trump+rioters.

Keigan McCullagh

The Capitol building, which was breached for the first time in over 200 years by a mob of pro-Trump rioters.

On the morning of Wednesday,  January 6th, 2021, Congress was scheduled to count the electoral votes cast in the 2020 Presidential Election, affirming the victory of Joseph R. Biden and Kamala Harris. This process was interrupted, however, when pro-Trump demonstrators, some of whom were armed, stormed into the Capitol building. 

Earlier that morning, President Trump held a “Save America Rally on the National Mall, where he continued to claim, incorrectly, that election was stolen and railed against Vice President Mike Pence for not overturning the results in Congress as the President had wanted him to. President Trump then encouraged all his supporters at the rally to “walk down to the Capitol” to “cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, referring to those who would be objecting to the results of the election. 

These statements by the President are the reason a crowd of Trump supporters ended up at the steps of the Capitol building, pushing through barricades and confronting Capitol police officers. 

Once the mob reached the Capitol steps, the police resisted with tear gas but were ultimately overwhelmed. More than 50 officers were injured, and one, Brian D. Sicknick, died Thursday night due to injuries sustained during the riot. In total, the events of the day led to at least 52 arrests, some on charges of carrying an unregistered weapon, and five deaths. 

Eventually, the crowd was able to enter the building through a broken window and broke through a set of main doors.  

The crowd flooded into the Rotunda, where Capitol police dispersed tear gas, as well as the Senate chamber. Rioters looked through Senator’s desks, one even sitting at the desk of the President of the Senate, which just hours before had been occupied by Vice President Pence. Later, the office of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was breached by demonstrators, one leaving a note on the Speaker’s desk reading We will not back down. 

Senators and House members were evacuated from their respective chambers and held in a secure location for several hours. Meanwhile, in the House chamber, Capitol police officers drew their guns in a standoff with Trump supporters outside the door trying to get in. One woman inside the building was shot in the chest by Capitol police and was later pronounced dead in an area hospital, while three others sustained fatal medical emergencies during the riot.  

The Washington, D.C., Virginia, and Maryland National Guards were deployed to support Capitol and Metropolitan police in containing the riot, though there was concern over what seemed to be a delay from the Washington, D.C. National Guard.  

Sometime after the crowd gathered and some entered the Capitol building, President Trump released a video via Twitter telling his supporters to go home, going on to say,We love you. You’re very special. Shortly after the video was posted, Twitter took it down, and eventually suspended the President’s account, initially for just 12 hours. But by Friday, January 8th, Twitter announced that the account has been suspended permanently “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.” 

Around 8 p.m. EST, Congress reconvened to resume certification of the electoral college votes;, many Republicans who had planned on challenging the results backed down after the events of the day, although Senator Josh Hawley signed onto an objection to certify Pennsylvania’s electoral votes. All the results were officially certified just before 4 a.m. EST. 

As the events of the day began to settle down, two emails were sent to the entire Webb student body. The first was sent by Sarah Lantz, VWS Dean of Students, announcing that there would be a virtual open chapel at 7 p.m. PST that night.  

A subsequent email was sent by Taylor Stockdale, Head of Schools, urging the community to come together to reflect and learn from the events of the day. 

At times like these, we as a school community need to fall back on our values and our roles as active, responsible citizens,” wrote Mr. Stockdale in his email. “Words like integrity, honor, moral courage and service really do have deeply important and lasting meaning.   Our country was founded on these principles, and it will endure with these principles near and dear to our hearts.” 

Many within the community spent Wednesday, a day meant for catching up on work or relaxing, glued to the TV, news websites, and social media. On platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, many students spent the day voicing their frustrations in real time, often referencing the disparity between the law enforcement response to the insurrectionists at the Capitol and the Black Lives Matter protests that took place throughout the summer.  

“I’m just very frustrated that people are using the BLM protests to downplay the actions on Wednesday at the Capitol,” Hunter Lange (‘22) said. “People are not calling this an act of terrorism and a display of white supremacy, when in reality, that’s exactly what it is.” 

“It is so wrong on so many levels what happened that day,” Julia Fenner (‘23) said, And what makes it so much worse is how far they got in and how little the law enforcement did to stop them. I think it is absolutely terrible how inconsistent the American government is at treating events when people of color are involved versus the white Trump supporters.” 

At 6:30 p.m. PST, students met in their regularly scheduled advisory meetings, many taking the opportunity to discuss the day with their advisor and peers. Some teachers, in the following days, have also taken class time to discuss the events. 

“I thought [the advisory discussion] was nice,” Laura Caldwell (‘21) said, “because we also talked about it in some other classes, but those were a lot more academic, but the advisory one was a good place to just vent about whatever we felt about it.” 

After the President incited this riot, lawmakers of both parties have called for his removal. Speaker Pelosi has said that the House will move on articles of impeachment if the President does not resign or Vice President Pence does not invoke the process of the 25th amendment.  

“I definitely believe Trump should be removed under the 25th amendment after Wednesday’s events, Julia said. “He had the immediate power to stop this situation from escalating, but he chose not to, and he is clearly unfit to be President.”  

Though it is unclear what may occur until then, in the wake of Wednesday’s events, millions of Americans are anxiously awaiting the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on January 20th.