Rafu Staff and Wire Reports
Washington, D.C. was on curfew Wednesday evening, following a stunning attempt by supporters of President Donald Trump to take over the U.S. Capitol and overturn the results of last November’s presidential election.
After Trump urged a crowd of thousands at a rally to march on the Capitol, mobs of demonstrators – some armed and some carrying handcuffs – broke into the building where proceedings were under way by members of Congress to officially count President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory.
Several people were injured in the riot, including one woman who was shot and has died, according to numerous reports early in the evening.
Trump loyalists stormed into the House chamber and other parts of the Capitol building, including one man who broke into the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and had himself photographed sitting in her chair with his feet on her desk.
The Capitol was locked down and members of Congress sheltered in place, as District of Columbia National Guard were deployed. The New York Times reported that the call for the Guard was issued by Vice President Mike Pence.
State police and National Guard from Virginia and Maryland were also responding, according to reports.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a statement that urged senators to resume the Electoral College vote count in the evening.
After not commenting on the violence for nearly two hours, Trump issued a video statement again voicing his often-repeated claims of voter fraud, telling protesters “we love you” and asking them to “go home.”
Smaller demonstrations broke out in several other U.S. cities, but were largely peaceful. Backers of the incumbent rallied in downtown Los Angeles in what was a mostly calm event until clashes erupted with counter-protesters, leading to four arrests.
Dozens of Trump supporters gathered at 9 a.m. for the rally outside Los Angeles City Hall. Holding flags and carrying signs reading “Stop the Steal,” members of the group stood along Spring Street while others circled the area in their vehicles.
Skirmishes began erupting around midday as counter-protesters gathered nearby. Los Angeles police, who earlier reported that the protest was being held peacefully, began showing up in large numbers, eventually declaring an unlawful assembly, ordering the crowd to disperse.
LAPD Officer Tony Im said “several fights” broke out during the demonstration, but he didn’t have information on whether anyone had been seriously hurt. Video from the scene showed at least one person left bloodied.
Im said four people were arrested.
The Little Tokyo Business Improvement District issued a community alert, advising residents, business and workers that an “anti-mask rally” was scheduled for City Hall, and expressing concern that the results from Tuesday’s U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia might trigger unrest.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who served as a national co-chair of Biden’s campaign, condemned the attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of Trump seeking to block Congress from affirming Biden’s victory.
“This is a dark day for America,” Garcetti said in a statement posted on his Twitter account. “The assaults on the integrity of our elections and the safety of the U.S. Capitol are wrong – defying our Constitution, our core decency and our common humanity.
“President Trump must condemn what has happened today, stop illegally contesting the will of the American public and support the institutions and elected leaders who comprise our democracy,” he said. “Our nation will withstand this horrifying moment, and we will see the peaceful transition of government this month. It cannot come too soon.”
Condemnation was swift from across the political spectrum, including McConnell and others who have consistently allied themselves with the president. Many decried the violence as un-American and an assault on the democratic process. Other comments have gone further, calling the actions an insurrection and sedition.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) was among lawmakers who were calling for Trump’s immediate removal from office, by invoking the 25th Amendment of the Constitution.
“He’s got another two weeks of doing inappropriate things,” Lieu told KNX radio.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) appeared to agree, sharing on Twitter that she was drawing up articles of impeachment.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside) spoke with KTLA while sheltering in place. He said he was receiving numerous texts concerned about his personal safety.
“We need to re-teach and re-learn what it means to be a participant in democracy, to be a citizen of a democracy,” Takano said. “There are certain democratic norms that we all must observe; among those is a peaceful transition of power, grace when losing an election.”
Takano added that he was disheartened to hear Trump again call the election fraudulent and declare that he sympathized with the protesters.
“It’s disappointing to hear such a sore, aggrieved loser not be graceful, to be disgraceful, actually. Our republic will endure, the government of people, for the people will not perish from the Earth. We will continue the count,” he vowed.