Four people have died after riots broke out at the US Capitol, perpetrated by supporters of Donald Trump, in scenes that shocked the world.
An enormous mob of extremists and white supremacists successfully breached the Capitol on Wednesday (6 January) as Congress met to officially count the Electoral College votes of the 50 states and Washington DC – a formality that usually goes by without incident.
Members of Congress were evacuated and the certification process suspended while Washington DC police clashed with violent rioters, resulting in a shoot-out in at least one of the Capitol’s two chambers.
Robert Contee, Washington DC police chief, said a woman died after being shot by US Capitol Police. She was later named as Ashli Babbitt, 35, by NBC News.
Three others died in “medical emergencies” after the insurrection became violent, the police chief said.
Twitter was flooded with shocking images of violent thugs rampaging through the Capitol on Wednesday. Among the unbelievable photos circulated online was one which showed an extremist sitting at Nancy Pelosi’s desks and another falsely declaring “Trump won the election” on the dais.
Law enforcement authorities reported removing improvised explosive devices from the Capitol – although it was not clear if they were thought to be functional – and five weapons were recovered.
Three people were arrested during the insurrection, and Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a 12-hour curfew on the city.
Congress finally reconvened shortly after 8pm local time (1am UK time), where both Democrats and Republicans sharply criticised Trump for encouraging the extremists responsible for the Capitol riots, and for then refusing to condemn the violence.
Notably, a number of Republican senators who had vowed to challenge the largely ceremonial certification process had a change of heart following violent scenes at the Capitol earlier in the day. Some of those who were expected to object to proceedings ultimately chose not to – however, more than 120 Republicans objected to the election result in Arizona.
Meanwhile, Trump – after years of spouting dangerous conspiracy theories and pandering to white supremacists – temporarily had his Twitter account locked after a number of tweets were removed for “repeated and severe violations”.
The social media platform threatened to permanently ban the president if he did not delete the tweets, while Facebook also restricted Trump’s access to his account for a 24-hour period.
LGBT+ figures condemned Donald Trump following violent Capitol riots
The events at the Capitol were condemned by high-profile LGBT+ figures. Sarah McBride, who became the first transgender state senator in United States history when she was elected on 3 November, tweeted: “CNN is right to use the term ‘insurrectionists’ and to call this an ‘attempted coup’.
“This is shameful and is a direct result of the rhetoric and actions of Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Josh Hawley. ”
She also hit out at the Republican senators who subsequently objected to state election results during the certification process, saying: “Any Republican member of Congress who votes in favour of the objection at this point is clearly and explicitly endorsing today’s violence.”
Gay New York congressman Mondaire Jones told the Medhi Hasan Show on Peacock TV that the Republicans who subsequently objected to the certification process were “co-conspirators in sedition” with Donald Trump.
He said Trump was “the main cheerleader for the violent insurrection” that occurred in the Capitol, adding: “What happened today is never supposed to happen.
“This is a routine certification of a free and fair election. There was no voter fraud, and to the extent there was voter suppression, it was our Black and brown voters in places like Georgia who were Democratic voters. And it’s just so shameful what’s happening, it’s why I called for the expulsion of my Republican colleagues who have participated in these objections.”
Jones said he had agreed to co-sponsor articles of impeachment in an effort to have Trump removed from office, saying it was important that America send “a very strong message” to the world that his actions would not be tolerated.
In a statement, Jones added: “I am grateful for the outpouring of support today, and I am happy to share that my team and I are safe. Yet I could not have imagined a darker day for democracy.”
Ritchie Torres, another gay New York congressman, tweeted: “Life never unfolds quite as you imagine it. I never thought, as a newly sworn-in congressman, that I would live through a violent assault on the US Capitol during an Electoral College vote count. Donald Trump has managed tom are the unimaginable a reality.”
He added: “Democracy will not perish in the face of violent mobs instigated by Donald Trump and his enablers.”
Pete Buttigieg also hit out at those storming the Capitol, tweeting: “Words have consequences, especially the words of a president and his allies. Today those consequences include violent rioters attacking our Capitol to overthrow the American democratic process. This must end, and democracy must prevail.”
While his attempted coup has failed, he and his supporters are a threat to democracy and will be as long as he is in power.
Meanwhile, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis urged Facebook and Twitter to permanently ban Trump from their platforms.
“It’s time to take real steps towards security, safety and justice for all,” she wrote on Twitter.
The National LGBTQ Taskforce called for Trump to be “immediately removed” from office through the 25th Amendment.
“Donald Trump has been, continues to be, and will remain a threat to democracy, the US Constitution, and human life every day he remains in office,” Rea Carey, executive director of the group said in a statement.
“While his attempted coup has failed, he and his supporters are a threat to democracy and will be as long as he is in power.”
Carey said allowing Trump to remain in office for even one more day would be too long, adding: “If Trump is able to make one more call to the Acting Secretary of Defence, it would be one call too many. If Trump is able to push through one more regulation, it would be one too many. He abandoned his post and responsibility long ago, and we have watched in horror with each swing of his golf club, as more Americans die.”
Trump was also lambasted by all four living former presidents: George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.