Violent Donald Trump supporters have stormed the US Capitol in violent scenes described as « as close to a coup attempt this country has ever seen. »
Senators are being evacuated from the building, the meeting place of the United States Congress, after politicians were forced to shelter in their offices with police outside overwhelmed by hundreds of rioters.
Pictures show smoke filling a corridor as the demonstrators storm the building with CNN reporting an armed stand off with guns drawn at the door of the House Chamber, with police looking into unconfirmed reports of pipe bombs at multiple locations.
The building is now in lockdown after protesters made it inside, one of whom was carrying the racist Confederate flag.
US channel C-Span has aired a video of what it says was tear gas being fired outside the US House Chamber.
The doors of the legislative chamber have been barricaded and reporters inside have been told to get down on the floor by police.
Supporters of US President Donald Trump enter the US Capitol as smoke fills the corridor
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A message over the PA system said: « Lock all doors if able. If unable, seek shelter or concealment. Remain calm and await further directions. I repeat… security threats security threats security threats inside the US Capitol. »
Tear gas has been deployed and congressmen and women have been told to put on gas masks they keep under their desks.
Rioters have entered the chamber, Huff Post reporter Igor Bobic tweeted.
He wrote: » They’re in the chamber. One is up on the dais yelling ‘Trump won that election!’ This is insane. »
He shared an image showing a demonstrator standing on the dais – the raised platform at the front of the chamber, with his fist raised defiantly in the air.
Protesters including the far-right, neo-fascist Proud Boys have torn down barriers and thrown items at police in scenes described as « unreal » by one reporter.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Washington DC mayor have requested for the National Guard to come to Capitol Hill to clear the rioters.
They earlier breached security barricades around the US Capitol building and scaled a structure built for Joe Biden’s inauguration.
Donald Trump supporters have stormed the US Capitol
Former DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey has told CNN: « This is as close to a coup attempt this country has ever seen. »
While CNN anchor AnaCabrera writes on Twitter: « Federal and local law enforcement are responding to reports of possible pipe bombs in multiple locations in Washington DC.
« It’s unclear if the devices are real or a hoax, but they’re being treated as real. »
The Washington DC mayor has ordered a citywide curfew from 6pm (11pm UK time) today until 6am tomorrow (11am our time).
Meanwhile Trump has tweeted three times in the past hour, saying: « Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth! »
Members of congress run for cover as protesters try to enter the House Chamber
He later added: « Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful! »
This after Vice President Pence rebuffed the president’s demand to overturn his loss to Democrat Joe Biden and the Senate’s Republican leader denounced a bid in Congress to undo the election outcome.
Today the the US Congress and Senate were confirming the Electoral College votes from the 2020 presidential election, won by Biden.
Staff writer at The Dispatch, Andrew Egger, wrote on Twitter: « Protesters have torn down a barrier.
« Fireworks going off outside the Capitol.
« People in a tower telling the crowd to press forward. ‘Move forward and we can beat them.’
« Throwing things are police.[sic] Crowd pushing up chanting USA. This is unreal. »
The US Capitol building is in Washington DC, the US capital city and its political centre.
. tonight reports it has been put on lockdown as the pro-Trump demonstrators rally outside as Congress debates the certification of Biden’s electoral victory.
The Senate was forced to abruptly recess during the debate on the Electoral College vote as congressional staff and reporters were initially ordered to « shelter in place », . reports.
Washington police have told reports that the US Capitol building has been breached and lockdown has been order in both chambers.
Reports also suggest that the US Vice President Mike Pence has left the senate chamber.
Supporters of Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington
Some US House lawmakers are still inside the chamber, reports state.
Republican senators Cotton and Johnson have called the violence unacceptable and called on the Trump protesters to disperse.
Protesters earlier unfurled Trump flags as they gathered on the Capitol steps.
Police used teargas and pepper spray on some of the protesters.
Trump, who has spent much of his time since the November 3 election trying to overturn the results, falsely said he won as he spoke on an outdoor stage framing the White House, which Biden is due to move into in two weeks.
Crowds gathered at the « Save America March » wore Trump-approved red baseball caps and cheered as Trump repeated the groundless conspiracy theories that have consumed his final days in office – a period in which coronavirus infections have surged throughout the United States as the pandemic worsens.
Protesters clash with police officers outside of the U.S. Capitol Building
« You don’t concede when there’s theft involved, » Trump, a Republican, said after taking the stage following a playlist blasted over loudspeakers of power ballads by Elton John and Phil Collins. « Our country has had enough and we will not take it any more. »
For more than an hour, he aired familiar grievances with the news media and Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival from the 2016 election, and delighted the crowd by calling Democratic victories the product of what he called « explosions of b***s**t. »
« B***s**! B***s**! B***s**! » the crowd chanted in reply.
Most were not wearing the face masks despite Covid-19 having killed more than 350,000 Americans.
Thousands of Trump supporters, fueled by his spurious claims of voter fraud, are flooding the nation’s capital
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Weeks have passed since the states completed certifying that Biden, a Democrat, won the election by 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232, and Trump’s extraordinary challenges to Biden’s victory have floundered in courts across the country.
Congress was due to confirm Biden’s victory on Wednesday.
Many of Trump’s fellow Republicans have promised a stonewalling effort that could stretch proceedings past midnight but was almost certain to fail.
Trump returned to the White House as some at the rally marched down Pennsylvania Avenue to join the protesters storming the US Capitol grounds.
(Image: Amy Harris/REX/Shutterstock)
« Drain the swamp! » protesters chanted. « F**k Joe Biden! »
Members of militia groups and far-right groups, some in body armor, mingled with the crowds, and some government offices buildings were on high alert.
« I’m sheltering in place in my office, » Haley Stevens, a Michigan congresswoman, wrote on Twitter. « The building next door has been evacuated. I can’t believe I have to write this. »
Washington police earlier banned from the city Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Trump-supporting far-right group the Proud Boys, after he was arrested on Monday for destruction of property and possession of a firearm magazine.
Other members of the men’s group, which espouses white nationalism, gathered at the U.S. Capitol.
Crowd control largely fell to the Metropolitan Police Department, which mobilized all 3,750 officers, the Capitol Police, the Park Police, the U.S. Secret Service, and more than 300 members of the city’s National Guard, according to Washington police chief Robert Contee and other officials.
Police have told protesters not to bring their guns to Washington, which has some of the country’s strictest gun laws and bans the open carrying of firearms.
On Tuesday evening, Trump supporters trying to reach Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House were stopped by police in riot gear who used pepper spray and batons to drive them back.
Police said a handful of their officers were injured in scuffles and 10 people were arrested from Tuesday into Wednesday morning, a police spokeswoman said.
Meanwhile, Militia members have gathered outside the Georgia Capitol and senior staff have been escorted out to safety.