Hallucinating scenes. In Washington, hundreds of supporters of Donald Trump invaded, Wednesday, January 6, the Capitol, where Congress sits (which brings together the House of Representatives and the Senate), during the session which was to certify the victory of Joe Biden in the American presidential election. These unprecedented scenes of chaos, which followed a speech by Donald Trump calling for “never concede defeat”, ended with at least one death, a woman who was shot by police, and around 50 arrests.
>> Follow the reactions live the day after the intrusion into the Capitol
What happened ?
On Wednesday, while the session supposed to confirm his defeat in the November presidential election is being held on Capitol Hill, Donald Trump chooses to challenge Congress by bringing together tens of thousands of his supporters in the American capital. AT On this occasion, he attacks with extreme virulence his own camp. Republican tenors are “weak” and “pathetic”, he says, under a sky laden with heavy clouds, in front of his supporters. “We will never give up. We will never concede” defeat, he insists, pressuring his vice president Mike Pence to “do whatever it takes” and does not act the victory of the Democratic candidate before Congress.
Hundreds of Donald Trump supporters then head to the Capitol to cause a suspension of the certification of results giving Joe Biden victorious, as reported by the Radio France correspondent in Washington, who calls the scene of “surrealist”.
Absolutely surreal scene where now thousands of supporters of @realDonaldTrump converge on the Capitol to put pressure on Congress, which must validate the results of the presidential election in November pic.twitter.com/2snqUhhXY4
– Gregory Philipps (@gregphil) January 6, 2021
Trumpist activists also attack the press, destroying “cameras and equipment which they confiscated from journalists”, as evidenced by this AFP journalist.
– Camille Camdessus (@CCamdessus) January 6, 2021
The supporters of Donald Trump manage to enter the Capitol, without opposition from the police – few in number at this time. They then invade the corridors and offices for several hours. Some, like this one, photographed by AFP, carry Confederate flags, those of the southern slave states during the Civil War.
A pro-Trump protester with a Confederate flag in the halls of the Capitol #AFP
– Agence France-Presse (@afpfr) January 6, 2021
This Republican representative, like others, expressed her amazement when she saw the Capitol under attack. “This is not who we are. My heart is broken for our nation”, she wrote on Twitter.
Just evacuated my office in Cannon due to a nearby threat. Now we’re seeing protesters assaulting Capitol Police.
This is wrong. This is not who we are. I’m heartbroken for our nation today. pic.twitter.com/jC9P0YfSLQ
– Rep. Nancy Mace (@RepNancyMace) January 6, 2021
The police came as reinforcements then use tear gas to disperse the rioters. Soldiers from the National Guard were sent there to restore calm after several hours of extreme tension. At the same time, the mayor of Washington, Muriel Bowser, imposes a curfew at 6 p.m. in the American capital, where the state of emergency will be extended for two weeks. According to the US Capitol Historical Society, this is the first time the Capitol has been invaded since the building was set on fire by British troops in 1814.
Washington police say they’ve arrested 52 people on Wednesday evening. She specifies that 26 people were arrested inside the Capitol itself. In total, 47 of these 52 arrests are related to curfew violations, and several also concern illegal carrying of a weapon.
Are there any victims?
Yes, there is at least one confirmed death. This is a woman who was shot dead by the Capitol police. She was part of one of the groups of supporters of Donald trump who sowed chaos in the federal building. “Uniformed officers from the Capitol Police confronted them and at one point one of them used his service weapon” and touched her, Robert Contee, the Washington police chief, said at a press conference. This woman was pronounced dead after being transferred to hospital. Robert contee has not yet confirmed his identity. An internal investigation was opened into this “tragic event”, he announced.
In addition, three people (a woman and two men) died around the Capitol. “separate medical emergency”, added the police chief, without giving more details, nor to say if they were participants in the demonstrations. The cause of their death cannot be established before their examination by a forensic doctor, he said.
What consequences for Joe Biden’s victory?
After a hiatus of several hours, Congress resumed the process of certifying the victory ofe Joe Biden, which will move to the White House on January 20. In the middle of the night, and after the rejection of objections by Republican elected officials to Arizona’s results, Vice President Mike Pence confirmed the Democrat’s victory, with 306 voters against 232 for the incumbent.
Earlier, in a serious speech delivered during the intrusion into the Capitol, Joe Biden had denounced an attack “unprecedented” against American democracy. He called on Donald Trump to speak out “at once” on television to claim “the end of the siege” of the Capitol and this “insurrection”.
After pointing out that the United States had already crossed “wars and conflicts” and had resisted it, the new president hammered that his upcoming work for four years would be “to restore democracy, decency, honor, respect, the rule of law”.
Through war and strife, America has endured much. And we will endure here and prevail now. pic.twitter.com/OvNOV0ogWG
– Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 6, 2021
How did Donald Trump react?
Instead of a solemn address to end this incredible situation, as Joe Biden demanded, Donald Trump contented himself with a few tweets and a short video in which he asked his supporters to steer clear of violence and “go back home”. “I love you (…). I understand your pain”, he added, however, claiming once again that the election was theirs “stolen”. The video was removed soon after by Facebook, which ruled that it “contributed to the risk of violence”.
The social network decided at the same time to block the billionaire’s account for 24 hours. For its part, Twitter also deleted the video and blocked the @realDonaldTrump account for twelve hours, threatening it with permanent suspension. Unprecedented measures.
The only one of Donald Trump’s Republican predecessors still alive, George W. Bush, denounced Wednesday night scenes of chaos worthy of a “banana republic”. For former Democratic President Barack Obama, this violence is “a moment of dishonor and shame” for America.
Donald Trump finally promised, overnight, “an orderly transition on January 20”, without failing to reaffirm “his total disagreement with the result of the election”. “Even if this represents the end of the best first term in the history of presidents [américains], this is only the beginning of our fight to make America great again “, he added, repeating his campaign slogan. This declaration, relayed on Twitter by Dan Scavino, deputy to the White House chief of staff, came shortly after the vote certifying Joe Biden’s victory.
What are the reactions abroad?
French President Emmanuel Macron called for not giving in to “the violence of a few” against democracies. Berlin for its part asked pro-Trump to “stop trampling on democracy”. London denounces for its part “shameful scenes”. Lhe Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, denounced “shocking scenes”, insisting that the result of this democratic election should be “respected”.