USA: Extremist supporters of Trump attack Capitol building, disrupt joint session of Congress, four dead, media and world leaders call it an attack on democracy
The anticipated official certification of the result of the US presidential elections was replaced yesterday by chaos that many commentators and politicians are calling unprecedented in modern American history. A joint session of both chambers of Congress to confirm the victory of Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the November 2020 presidential election was disrupted by adherents of his rival, outgoing President Donald Trump, who took over the building of Congress for several hours.
Neo-Nazis were among the extremists who attacked the building. A woman was shot during the unrest in the Capital yesterday and has since died.
Media announced news of the death by referring to a report from the local chief of police that did not include details. According to The Washington Post, the deceased was a supporter of President Trump.
The total number of lives lost to the invasion of Trump's supporters of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C. is four. Several police officers were also injured in the scuffles; the Czech News Agency posted the following news of the ongoing incident to Facebook:
The police also found and disarmed explosives at the main headquarters of the Republican Party and also evacuated the headquarters of the Democratic Party because of similar threats. The National Guard and federal law enforcement intervened at the scene.
The Capitol was eventually cleared of the invaders and police dispersed the rest of the extremists using teargas. Trump has repeatedly refused to recognize the results of the November elections and is alleging, without evidence, that Biden's victory is the result of fraud.
Trump repeated those allegations to his adherents today along with the remark that he will never acknowledge having lost re-election. According to reporters for the Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) in the US, the atmosphere in front of the Capitol building was very tense and several hundred extremists and neo-Nazis broke through the security barriers that were in place.
The demonstrators then took over the entire space in front of the Capitol building. Several began taking over both chambers of Congress at the moment when each chamber was separately discussing objections by Republican legislators to the counting of the electoral votes from Arizona, disrupting the session.
When the far-right infiltrates the police. https://t.co/EKMfu5UD5g— Zeljko Jovanovic (@jovanovicz) January 7, 2021
Security arranged for the members of Congress to don gas masks because law enforcement was using teargas inside the building to deter the invaders. All lawmakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, were brought to safety.
According to local reporting, the protesters demolished the equipment in the office of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and also destroyed the equipment of journalists whom Trump had once again labeled "enemies of the state" several hours before. Authorities allowed the National Guard for the federal district around the capital city of Washington, D.C. to be deployed, and law enforcement from the neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia also arrived on the scene.
Members of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also joined the intervention. The Mayor of Washington, D.C. announced a 12-hour curfew.
The events at the Capitol building were condemned by the leading political representatives of both parties, who also called on the demonstrators to leave the seat of Congress. Pence threatened full prosecutions of all involved; Czech journalist Martin Ehl retweeted this image of just some of the damage done:
Biden called the situation an unprecedented attack on American democracy and called on Trump to tell his adherents to leave the Capitol building. Trump subsequently released a video in which he told his supporters to go home.
Trump did not condemn his supporters' behavior, however, and expressed understanding for the anger being expressed. Again without evidence, he declared the November elections to have been manipulated and "stolen".
The Facebook and Twitter social media sites then suspended Trump's accounts. Twitter blocked the U.S. President's account for the first time ever for at least 12 hours.
The condition for allowing Trump to access Twitter again is the deletion of three posts that "seriously violated" Twitter's rules, including the brief video with Trump's message to the demonstrators. Facebook also removed that video because, they explained, it could increase the risk of violence.
"We removed it because overall we believe it contributes to the risk of ongoing violence rather than reducing it," Facebook Vice President Guy Rosen said of the video. He also spoke of a "crisis situation" during which "the appropriate crisis measures" are adopted.
Armed supporters of Trump also assembled in Atlanta, Georgia
Roughly 100 demonstrators, some of whom were armed, also assembled in front of the Capitol building in Atlanta, the capital of the state of Georgia. The Secretary of State there, Brad Raffensperger, who is the highest official supervising elections in that state with whom Trump has had many disputes over the last few weeks, was evacuated from the building for preventive reasons along with his coworkers.
Police also reported discovering explosives at the headquarters of the Republic National Committee which they safely disarmed with the aid of managed explosion techniques. The headquarters of the Democratic National Committee had previously been evacuated after a suspicious package was found there, according to the media.
The headquarters of both committees in the capital city are located just a few blocks from the Capitol building. The entire situation played out against the backdrop of two essential contests for U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, where the American media has reported that Democrats have prevailed.
The Democratic Party has thereby secured a thin majority in the influential upper chamber for the next two years. Trump warned his adherents several days ago that control of the U.S. Senate is "the last line of defense" for Republicans and that the loss of the party's majority was unthinkable.
The events in the USA have been condemned by many countries around the globe, including Canada, the leadership of the European Union, France and the United Kingdom. "The violence in Washington is not a good example for countries striving for dmeocracy," Czech Foreign Minister Miroslav Petříček said in a statement.
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