Supporters of American President Donald Trump attacked and occupied the Capitol building in Washington, Wednesday, stopping members of Congress from counting electoral votes. The event is the final step in confirming the winner of the presidential election on Nov. 3. President-elect Joe Biden defeated Trump in the voting.
The violence forced Congress to suspend its meeting and move lawmakers and others to safety. The lawmakers include Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the count.
The protesters pushed down metal barriers at the bottom of the steps to the Capitol Building entrances. The rioters pushed past police officers, even as they fired tear gas. Others broke windows and climbed up the sides of the building. The attackers marched through the famous Rotunda area and the Senate chamber. They carried signs and took pictures. At least one stood at the Senate podium, saying “Trump won that election.”
One woman was shot and reportedly died later at a nearby hospital.
Just hours earlier, Trump had spoken to supporters gathered near the White House. He repeated false claims of voting fraud and told the group that the election had been stolen. He encouraged them to march to the Capitol and at one point suggested that he would join them.
Trump urged Vice President Mike Pence to block the final confirmation of Biden’s win. “Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us,” he said, “and if he doesn’t it’s a sad day for our country.”
Pence does not have such power under the United States Constitution. In a statement issued minutes before the joint meeting of Congress to count electoral votes, Pence said, “my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not.”
Biden had received 306 Electoral College votes over 232 for Trump. Only 270 electoral votes are needed to win. And Congress was meeting to officially certify Biden’s victory.
As images of the violent clashes were seen on television, Trump wrote on Twitter, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Speaking from Wilmington, Delaware, President-elect Joe Biden called the violent protests on the U.S. Capitol “an assault on the most sacred of American undertakings: the doing of the people’s business.” Biden also demanded President Donald Trump to immediately make a televised address calling on his supporters to cease the violence.
Republican lawmakers including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Senator Marco Rubio asked Trump to call back his supporters. And Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a joint statement, “We are calling on President Trump to demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol Grounds immediately.”
The unrest led Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser to establish a nighttime curfew in the city. Officials say about 1,100 members of the D.C. National Guard are helping to support local and federal law enforcement services.
By late afternoon, Trump called on people who had stormed the Capitol to “go home” in a video message posted to Twitter.
Officials declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” after heavily armed police moved to end the almost four-hour violent occupation.
An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure site for officials of Congress. Lawmakers there cheered.
I’m Caty Weaver.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
chamber - n. a large room where members of a government group have meetings
fraud - n. the crime of using dishonest methods
encourage - v. to make someone likely do something
unilateral - adj. involving only one person or one group
authority - n. the power to make decisions
determine - v. to officially decide something
assault - n. a violent, physical attack