Washington, D.C. exploded into chaos on Wednesday afternoon when a violent mob of President Donald Trump's supporters fought through police barricades and stormed their way into the U.S. Capitol building to halt Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden's victory.
Wednesday’s terrifying series of events followed months of unconscionable conspiracy mongering from Trump, who still publicly maintains that he only lost to Biden due to allegedly rampant voter fraud, although zero evidence of that fraud has come to light. Even when Trump finally presented a taped address to the protesters and the nation around 3:30 p.m. CST, he continued to insist the election was stolen from him, but urged his supporters to leave the Capitol building.
For weeks, Trump and his allies have encouraged the President’s supporters to flock to Washington D.C. on Wednesday for a massive protest to contest the election results, the same day that the U.S. Congress was set to convene to ceremonially confirm Electoral College votes.
Texas’s own U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz was one of the Republican lawmakers in the midst of a last-ditch effort to stop Congress from certifying Biden’s victory based on Trump’s soundly debunked election fraud claims when the mob finally forced its way inside the capitol building. Vice President Mike Pence was rushed off the floor of the Senate, and both the Senate and House abruptly went into recess to allow senators and representatives to take shelter.
Later, Cruz did send out a tweet condemning the mob action, a tweet that was jumped on by Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo.
Violence is always unacceptable. Even when passions run high.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 6, 2021
Anyone engaged in violence—especially against law enforcement—should be fully prosecuted.
God bless the Capitol Police and the honorable men & women of law enforcement who show great courage keeping all of us safe.
Shame on you @tedcruz, @GOPLeader, and all who fed the false narrative about our election, which has led to what we are witnessing in our Nation’s Capitol. You fanned the flames of mistrust and history will hold you accountable for the ensuing chaos. Outrageous!— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) January 6, 2021
And Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner weighed in also to cite Cruz:
DC: where is the law and order with these protesters? And what about the US Constitution? It doesn’t mean anything to these protesters? And Texans should hold Sen. Ted Cruz accountable for this fiasco. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) January 6, 2021
Images from the Capitol showed crazed Trump supporters gleefully breaking windows, police barricaded inside of the House chambers with guns drawn, and on MSNBC a bleeding woman was shown being carted off the premises on a gurney by emergency responders. At least one person was reportedly shot.
Reporters on the scene tweeted that lawmakers were being provided gas masks after tear gas was deployed in the Capitol Rotunda; It was unclear whether or not police or the right-wing mob was responsible for the gas.
Amid the chaos, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi requested that the National Guard come in to secure the Capitol, and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser issued a citywide curfew for 6 p.m.
Earlier on Wednesday before the mob stormed the Capitol, Trump addressed the massive crowd of his fans, proudly bleating that “We will never give up, we will never concede,” and begged Pence not to certify the Electoral Votes although the vice president has no Constitutional right to do so.
At that same pre-riot rally, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton took the podium to support Trump. “We will not quit fighting,” Paxton said.
In the social media reactions to Wednesday’s chaos, many observers pondered just how different the police response would look if this crazed mob wasn’t mostly made up of white men.
“If these were Black Lives Matter protesters or immigrants’ rights protesters, this would certainly be a different scene,” tweeted former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro.
Biden addressed the country on Wednesday afternoon, decrying the “unprecedented assault” on the Capitol.
“This is not dissent,” Biden said. “It’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition, and it must end now. I call this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”
“I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution,” Biden said, “and demand an end to this siege.”
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston released this message before 4 p.m. today.
"I am in the US Capitol. I am safe and will not fear or leave because of this unwarranted and shameless violence. These actions are not serving well at all our precious Democracy, America. We will stay on the floor until every vote is counted and President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are again confirmed as President and Vice President of the United States of America. This is my pledge. No one will stop me! The majority of Americans are depending on us!"
Congressman Dan Crenshaw, who glibly tweeted back in November that "The left uses violence. The right uses their voice. The difference matters," sang a different tune in a Wednesday afternoon post decrying the violence at the Capitol:
Stop this bullshit right now.— Dan Crenshaw (@DanCrenshawTX) January 6, 2021
Former Fort Bend County Sheriff and recently-elected Congressman Troy Nehls also tweeted about his opposition to Wednesday's violent mob, along with a photo of him sidled-up to the police officers defending the House chamber:
I was proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Capitol police barricading entrance to our sacred House chamber, while trying to calm the situation talking to protestors.— Troy Nehls (@SheriffTNehls) January 6, 2021
What I’m witnessing is a disgrace. We’re better than this. Violence is NEVER the answer.
Law and order! pic.twitter.com/SgN2F8YGIS
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.