Yesterday was an unprecedented day in modern-era America. Today, Joe Biden has been confirmed president.
Shortly after 9 AM CET (3 AM Washington DC time) on Thursday, January 7, Joe Biden was confirmed as the next President of the United States.
The decision came hours after it was initially supposed to.
Rioters storm the Capitol
It’s Wednesday, January 6, and Congress is counting electoral votes to officially confirm Biden as the next US President. The same day, Donald Trump gives a speech on the premises encouraging his supporters to refuse acceptance of the vote count.
Around 7 PM CET (1 PM Washington DC time) hundreds of rioters storm the Capitol Building, the seat of the US Congress. The building’s construction dates back to the 18th century, the very start of the United States as such.
Some are armed, others garbed in head-to-toe riot gear. Many more don clothes baring Trump’s infamous “Make America Great Again” slogan and carry flags. United States flags, but also Trump flags and Confederate battle flags.
Confederate flags date back to the 19th-century Confederacy, a breakaway state that fought against the Union in the American Civil War. The war, lasting from 1861 to 1865, began largely due to a long-standing disagreement between the states over the legality of slavery.
One rioter is photographed wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweater.
With such paraphernalia on display, rioters fight law officers (calling some “traitors” for doing their jobs), break through security fences, scale walls, and break windows.
Chaos in the Capitol
By 8:30 PM (2:30 PM local time) the Capitol is breached. What follows is chaos.
Staff and members of Congress are evacuated, and some are put on lockdown within the building. Among them is an enraged Vice President Mike Pence, who will later fiercely speak out against Trump undermining democracy and encouraging dangerous actions.
Outlandish scenes, such as a man donning Viking-like gear and US flag face paint sitting at the head of Congress, ensue. See surreal photos here.
In parallel, multiple pipe bombs found on government grounds are safely detonated. There were at least two: one in the Capitol and one at the Republican National Committee headquarters. In a vehicle near one of the bombs, 10 molotov cocktails are found along with firearms.
A woman dies after being shot by law enforcement officers on Capitol grounds, and initial reports identify her as Ashli Babbit, an Air Force veteran. Three more people, whose identities have yet to be confirmed, died of medical emergencies during the riots.
There are also dozens of injuries and over 50 arrests are made.
The building is secured and Biden confirmed as next President
Washington DC enacts a 6 PM curfew local time (midnight CET) and law enforcement officers work to clear the Capitol grounds.
It takes three hours – from the initial breach at 2:30 PM until around 5:40 PM local time (11:40 PM CET) – to fully secure the area.
Lawmakers return to the Capitol and make it clear they intend to finish what they started. Electoral vote counts resume at around 8 PM local time (2 AM CET).
Biden is officially confirmed as the next US president, with Kamala Harris as Vice President, around 3 AM local time (9 AM CET).
A situation not seen since 1814
During numerous events in US history, the Capitol building was a symbol of protest. In the 20th century, crowds gathered there in opposition to the Vietnam War and before that, WWI veterans demanded their pensions out front.
The Capitol has historically been lightly guarded. US citizens expect access to an important public space, and Congress members are reluctant to shut out the public for which they stand.
But the Capitol’s last violent breach, before yesterday, happened over 200 years ago.
In 1814, amid the ongoing War of 1812, British troops invaded and set fire to the building as part of a larger-scale attack on the area.
That’s not to say there haven’t been violent attacks on Capitol ground between 1814 and 2021. Here are some of them:
January 1835: Unemployed painter Richard Lawerence attempts to assassinate then-President Andrew Jackson, The gun fails to shoot.
May 1856: Proslavery politician Preston Brooks beats Charles Sumner, an abolitionist, with a cane in the Capitol
July 1915: Professor Eric Muenter plants a bomb in Capitol, which goes off after midnight and causes no injuries.
March 1954: Four armed Puerto Rican separatists enter the Capitol, shooting at will and wounding five.
March 1971: Far-left group Weather Underground bombs the Capitol in protest of United States military action in Laos and causes no deaths.
November 1983: A caller claiming to represent an “Armed Resistance Unit” warns of a bomb in the Capitol. Minutes later, it goes off and causes no injuries or deaths.
July 1998: Gunman Russell Eugene Weston Jr. kills two police officers, Jacob Chestnut Jr. and John Gibson on Capitol grounds
September-October 2001: Envelopes containing anthrax disease spored are mailed to the Capitol offices of Democratic Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy
But only in 1814 and 2021 was the building successfully stormed.
Trump and law enforcement responses strongly criticized
Many criticized Trump’s responses, which continued to falsely claim election fraud and inflame tensions.
Citizens were also shocked by the degree of ease with which rioters breached the Capitol, comparing it with stronger measures used on rioters following the death of George Floyd in 2020.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews