Police are clearing supporters of President Donald Trump from the US Capitol after they breached one of the most iconic American buildings, engulfing the nation’s capital in chaos after Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
According to CNN, shortly after 1 p.m. ET hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they tussled with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers “traitors” for doing their jobs. About 90 minutes later, police said demonstrators got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were being locked. Shortly after, the House floor was evacuated by police.
An armed standoff took place at the House front door as of 3 p.m. ET, and police officers had their guns drawn at someone who was trying to breach it. A Trump supporter was also pictured standing at the Senate dais earlier in the afternoon. A woman is in critical condition after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds, according to two sources familiar with the matter. The sources could not provide further details on the circumstances of the shooting. Multiple officers have been injured with at least one transported to the hospital, multiple sources tell CNN.
Smoke grenades were used on the Senate side of the Capitol, as police work to clear the building of rioters. Windows on the west side of the Senate have been broken, and hundreds of officers are amassing on the first floor of the building.
The Senate floor was cleared of rioters as of 3:30 p.m. ET, and an officer told CNN that they have successfully squeezed them away from the Senate wing of the building and towards the Rotunda, and they are removing them out of the East and West doors of the Capitol. It’s not clear if any of the individuals have been taken into custody.
The US Capitol Police are working to secure the second floor of the Capitol first, and will then expand from there.
Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from Capitol, where he was to perform his role in the counting of electoral votes.
The stunning display of insurrection was the first time the US Capitol had been breached since the British attacked and burned the building in August of 1814, during the War of 1812, according to Samuel Holliday, director of scholarship and operations with the US Capitol Historical Society.
The protesters first breached exterior security barriers, and video footage showed protesters gathering and some clashing with police near the Capitol building. CNN’s team on the ground saw a number of protesters trying to move up the side of the Capitol building. Several loud flash bangs were heard as well.
Protesters could be seen pushing against metal fences and police using the fences to push protesters back, while other officers reached over the top to club people trying to cross their lines.
Flashbangs could be heard near the steps of the Capitol as smoke filled the air. In some instances, officers could be seen deploying pepper spray. Tear gas was deployed, but it’s not clear whether by protesters or police, and people wiped tears from their eyes while coughing.
After the building was breached, the Capitol police officer in the House chamber told lawmakers that they may need to duck under their chairs and informed lawmakers that protesters were in the building’s Rotunda. Lots of House members were seen wearing gas masks as they move between Capitol buildings. Members were calling family to say they are OK.
House and Senate leadership is safe and in an undisclosed location, according to a person familiar. A separate lawmaker said House members have been evacuated to a location that this source would not disclose.
There are no clear answers yet on when the joint session will continue, multiple sources familiar told CNN. Congressional leadership wants the situation to be brought under control first.