Trump backers storm Capitol, halting Senate meeting to certify Biden win

Angry supporters of President Donald Trump who do not accept the results of the 2020 presidential election approach the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. 

Condemnation was swift and loud from elected officials from Ohio and Jewish organizations after hundreds of violent supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 6.

The incident, an attempt to overturn results of the presidential election, forced lawmakers into hiding and left one woman dead.

Congress was in the process of certifying former Vice President Joe Biden as president when people marched outside the Capitol and entered the building before the national guard and state and federal police were called in. The building and grounds were secured about four hours later.

Rare evening curfews were declared in Washington and nearby Virginia suburbs. The woman who died was shot inside the Capitol during the riots.

The rioters were egged on by Trump, who had spent weeks falsely attacking the integrity of the election and had urged his supporters to descend on Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s victory. Some Republican lawmakers were in the midst of raising objections to the results on his behalf when the proceedings were abruptly halted by the mob.

On Jan. 6, Twitter suspended the account of Trump for 12 hours after he repeatedly posted false accusations about the election. His supporters stormed the Capitol following a rally where Trump addressed them outside the White House, an hour before the formal proceedings began.

“This is an embarrassment to our country,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement. “This must stop immediately. The president should call for the demonstrators to leave our Capitol Building. The final step in the constitutional process of electing our president has been disrupted.

“The stopping of the count of the Electoral College votes has occurred because the security of the U.S. Capitol has been breached by a violent mob. As a nation of laws, this is simply not acceptable. Lawlessness is not acceptable. This is an affront to our Constitution and everything we hold dear. Those who breached the Capitol breached the Constitution. Peaceful demonstrations outside the Capitol are an exercise of the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights. Stopping the constitutional process by which we elect the president is not.”

The protests halted Congress’ constitutionally mandated counting of the Electoral College results, in which Biden defeated Trump, 306-232. Congress has five days to certify the results and returned that night once the area was secured to complete its responsibility.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had tried to steer Congress away from a formal protest of those results, and he said at the start of proceedings that Trump had clearly lost.

But even the deliberations, which included Vice President Mike Pence and McConnell defying Trump’s demands, were quickly overtaken by the chaos.

The violent protesters abruptly interrupted the congressional proceedings in an eerie scene that featured official warnings directing people to duck under their seats for cover and put on gas masks after tear gas was used in the Capitol Rotunda.

Senators were being evacuated and some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.

Rioters shouted and waved Trump and American flags after they breached the hallways of the Capitol.

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Cleveland, tweeted that he and his staff were safe.

“The violence at the Capitol needs to end now...” Brown tweeted.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Cincinnati, tweeted “The right to protest peacefully is protected under the Constitution but the actions by violent mobs against our law enforcement and property at the U.S. Capitol building today are not tolerable. ...”

Biden said in Wilmington, Del., “I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege.”

Moments later, Trump released an audio statement via Twitter telling protesters that although they were “very special people” and he backed their cause, they should “go home in peace.”

The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Congress quickly decried the violence.

“The president has promoted sedition and incited violence,” ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement. “People assaulting law enforcement officers or breaching government buildings must be arrested and held accountable.

“More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office. President Trump failed to meaningfully call for an end to this violence and unrest that he has sowed. His campaign of disinformation is a clear and present danger to our democracy.”

The American Jewish Congress issued a statement calling for removal of Trump from office: “Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to protest Congress. Today’s anarchy is the result. We want stable democracy. The Cabinet should consider applying the 25th amendment to immediately remove Trump from office to end this incitement against our democracy.”

JewishColumbus condemned “the seditious and violent riots.”

“Since 1788, a peaceful transition of power has been the unwavering symbol of American democracy,” JewishColumbus leaders wrote in a Jan. 6 statement. “... We pray for the safety of all members of Congress, their staff and the law enforcement who are protecting them. And we pray for democracy and the United States of America.”

Rabbi Rick Kellner of Congregation Beth Tikvah in Worthington, who has walked the steps of the Capitol many times with the synagogue’s confirmation classes and in meetings with lawmakers, said in an email to congregants he never imagined seeing this kind of scene at the Capitol.

In a statement, Kellner said, “That I would have to explain to my children that rioters have attacked and assaulted the United States Capitol where lawmakers routinely meet to debate and discuss the ideals that keep us safe and orderly. Seeing Capitol Police holding weapons to protect our lawmakers inside their chambers was horrifying. We are better than this. This is not the America we have known and worked for. Are we watching our nation unravel or are we watching us reach the lowest of the low?”

Temple Beth Shalom in New Albany held a prayer vigil the evening of Jan. 6 in response to the incidents.

There were also demonstrators at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, where pro-Trump and anti-Trump protesters clashed, local media outlets reported.

Other Ohioans issuing statements included Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Warrensville Heights, and Ohio Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights.

“This is a day that will live in infamy,” said Fudge, whom Biden has nominated as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in his administration. “The very people who believe they are protecting our democracy have succeeded in destroying it. This is a sad day in the history of this great nation. This is not the way, even when we disagree. Violence is never the answer and order must be restored.”

Yuko said, “What is happening in Washington, D.C. is appalling and unconscionable. The blame lies entirely with President Trump and his supporters, including the Republican elected officials who have defended him for the past four years, as he was breaking democratic rule after democratic rule.

“I woke up hopeful for America this morning after Georgia elected its first Black (the Rev. Raphael Warnock) and its first Jewish (Jon Ossoff) U.S. Senators. Not in a million years would I have expected to see extremists invade the Capitol to stop the certification of the presidential election. This has to stop. We cannot let a violent mob disrupt our democratic process. I urge my Republican colleagues to condemn these riots and stop advancing dangerous conspiracy theories,” Yuko said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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