Today, January 6, marks one year since the shocking insurrection at the US Capitol in Washington DC, where Donald Trump supporters stormed the building in protest of Joe Biden’s presidential win.
News of a protest in the city on January 6 was not unexpected, with Trump himself having rallied his supporters with a tweet just weeks before that read: ‘Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!’
Exactly how ‘wild’ the events would be, however, is not something that anyone could have predicted. Supporters gathered early for the rally near the Ellipse after it emerged that Trump had lost the 2020 election, ready to voice their disapproval and promote their belief that the win had been ‘stolen’ from the Republican.
At the same time, a joint session of Congress was preparing to assemble to formalise the results of the election.
Trump greeted the crowd just before midday, speaking for more than hour as he spouted unfounded claims about Biden’s supposedly unlawful success and told his supporters that they would ‘fight like hell’.
Per USA Today, he continued: ‘If you don’t fight like hell, you’re not going to have a country anymore. So we are going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue – I love Pennsylvania Avenue – and we are going to the Capitol.’
Following Trump’s instructions, the crowds began to make their way to the Capitol. It wasn’t long before the scene descended into chaos as rioters began challenging police on the steps of the Capitol building, resulting in the building being placed under lockdown and both chambers of Congress being evacuated.
Rioters broke windows and managed to force their way inside, making their way to the House and Senate and refusing to back off even when faced with officers such as Eugene Goodman, who put his own safety at risk to lead the mob away from the Senate doors.
During the chaos, Trump encouraged his supporters to ‘stay peaceful’ in a tweet in which he also wrote: ‘Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country.’
Reports of shots being fired continued in spite of Trump’s tweet, and by 4.00pm there was news of at least one person having been struck by gunfire.
In a bid to help bring the chaos to an end, around 1,100 troops were mobilised from the District of Columbia National Guard. For his part, Trump urged people to ‘go home and go home in peace’. Twitter later banned the president from tweeting for 12 hours, later banning him from the platform permanently.
In the hours and days after the riots, it emerged that nearly 150 law enforcement officers were injured during the events and a total of five people lost their lives, namely military veteran Ashli Babbitt, 35; US Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick; Benjamin Phillips, 50; Kevin Greeson, 55; and Rosanne Boyland, 34.
On January 9, Capitol Police and the White House released a statement to say another Capitol Police officer, Howard Charles Liebengood, died while off-duty the following Saturday. Officials did not disclose the cause of the officer’s death, but a family spokesperson cited by news sources said he died by suicide.
A week after the events, Trump was impeached for the second time by a bipartisan House majority for inciting the insurrection. The former president was ultimately acquitted on the charges after the vote failed to receive the required two-thirds majority.
More than 700 people have been arrested for their alleged roles in the riot in the year since it took place, with more than 150 pleading guilty to the charges, according to KDKA. Dozens of defendants have been sentenced to jail time, and investigators continue to search for more than 350 individuals who are thought to have been involved.
Meanwhile, Trump continues to receive support from members of his party, with many hoping that he will run for election again in 2024.
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