Gov. Ralph Northam sent the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia State Police troopers to the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon as armed pro-Trump demonstrators breached the Capitol Rotunda. The show of force from Virginia is at the request of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, he said.
Supporters of President Donald Trump and his unproven claims of widespread election fraud flooded the streets of Washington on Wednesday, clashed with police outside the Capitol and breached the building, forcing a lockdown with lawmakers still inside.
Members of Congress inside the House chamber were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in Capitol Rotunda, WTOP.com reports. U.S. Capitol police report protesters have breached the Senate chambers.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a citywide curfew starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday until 6 a.m. Thursday.
Trump released a video Wednesday afternoon asking rioters to go home, but also fueling the notion of a “stolen election.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2021
Before protesters entered the building, WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez estimated that “at least a thousand people” gathered beneath the west front of the Capitol building.
“I can hear someone declaring on a megaphone: ‘March forward, march forward,’” Alvarez said.
He reported hearing a large bang from the front of the crowd right after.
“‘Move forward, patriots,’ somebody is shouting,” Alvarez said.
He reported that protesters are going face-to-face with a line of riot police who are attempting to prevent further access to the western front of the Capitol.
Pepper spray has been used, Alvarez said. “But despite that, nobody, neither the police nor the group of Trump supporters, appear to be moving anywhere.”
There are reports of one woman shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds and several other reports of injuries to police officers.
U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., tweeted Wednesday afternoon that the violence needed to stop.
“This is absolutely unacceptable. This is not how we conduct the Nation’s business. Please allow us to get the work of the people completed,” he wrote.
U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va. tweeted the “domestic terrorists” would not stop Congress from certifying the election results.
The desecration of our nation’s Capitol by domestic terrorists will not derail the duty of Congress to certify President-Elect Biden’s win.
— Elaine Luria (@ElaineLuriaVA) January 6, 2021
“You are a complete disgrace to the Office of the President,” she wrote in response to Trump’s video.
Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., tweeted that he was safe and thanked people for their concern.
“I am safe and sheltering in place with other senators. Please join me in praying for our country, and for our fellow Americans to do the right thing,” he said.
Sen. Tim Kaine’s staff told reporters he, too, was sheltering in place and safe Wednesday afternoon.