As pro-Trump rioters storm U.S. Capitol, Michigan lawmakers, U-M officials denounce violence
A mob of President Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building Wednesday afternoon in an insurrection against the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden by Congress. Thousands of rioters crowded the area outside of the Capitol, breaking windows and prompting a building-wide lockdown for much of Wednesday afternoon.
At least one person was shot and killed inside the Capitol building, though more details have not been released at the time of publication. U.S. officials announced the Capitol building was secure at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, the same time a curfew took effect in D.C.
Trump supporters also gathered outside of the state Capitol Building in Lansing Wednesday, though their demonstrations were largely peaceful. According to the Detroit Free Press, some of these protestors were armed, and many carried Trump and American flags.
Throughout the riot, Trump refused to clearly denounce the mob’s attacks and repeated lies about election fraud, sending out a number of conflicting tweets that both urged the group to remain peaceful and supported their actions.
Three of Trump’s tweets were removed by Twitter shortly after they were posted for violating guidelines and potentially inciting violence. Following these tweets, Twitter announced that Trump’s account would be locked for 12 hours.
In a speech Wednesday prior to the lockdown, Trump also said he would “never concede” the election won by Biden in November and said he “loved” those who participated in the riot. Earlier in the day he suggested Vice President Mike Pence should overturn the results himself. Pence said he did not have the power to contest election results.
At the time of the riots, the U.S. Senate was working to certify the 2020 election results. Various Republican senators were in the process of challenging Arizona’s vote tally in hopes of preventing the election from being confirmed for Biden.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that Congress would resume counting Electoral College votes and certify the results Wednesday evening, confirming Biden as the winner.
The rallies come on the same day as both of Georgia’s Senate seats were won by Democratic candidates Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. With this win, Democrats will now hold exactly half of the U.S. Senate seats and — because Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is the deciding vote — will essentially hold the majority.
Trump has repeatedly touted disproven claims of election fraud following the November election, all of which experts have repeatedly said are false. The Trump campaign has continued filing extensive lawsuits in key states, including Michigan, which have been withdrawn or dismissed.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., who represents Ann Arbor, condemned the riots and called on Trump to tweet and attempt to end the violence. She was in the Capitol building at the time it was breached.
“Today will be written about in the history books,” Dingell tweeted. “The choices we make will be judged long after we’re gone. It’s time to move forward and unite this nation. … This isn’t the America I know. Shots have been fired. Bombs have been found. Tear gas has been used in the Capitol. And people, including Capitol Police, have been hurt.”
Just before 6 p.m., Dingell tweeted she was in a secure location and said lawmakers should return to certifying the 2020 election results.
The University of Michigan’s chapter of College Republicans addressed the riots in a tweet Wednesday afternoon, stating it is time for the Republican party to “move on” from Trump.
“It is time to respect our American Institutions,” the tweet read. “It is time to love and respect our country again.”
The University’s chapter of College Democrats released a statement condemning the riots.
“This is an unprecedented, frightening event that is the result of years of Trump’s hateful and dangerous rhetoric,” the statement reads. “We condemn the violence occuring and this obstruction of law and justice. As President-elect Joe Biden said in his address to the nation regarding the unfolding events, ‘This is not dissent, this is disorder.’”
University President Mark Schlissel also released a statement condemning Wednesday’s riots, calling on Congress to “proceed peacefully in full support of our democratic process.” In his statement, Schlissel said the rioters’ actions constituted an “attack” on the United States.
“The sight of a violent mob taking over the floor of the U.S. Senate brought tears to my eyes,” Schlissel wrote. “This is not who we are as a nation. What distinguishes our form of government is its inviolable respect for the will of the people, where we conduct elections with integrity, count every vote, commit together to uphold the U.S. Constitution and ensure that democracy always prevails.”
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and former Gov. Rick Synder released a joint press release Wednesday evening asking Michiganders to pray for healing.
“What is unfolding today in our nation’s capital is truly appalling,” Whitmer said. “Violence, vandalism, and insurrection have no place in this great country of ours. We are a nation of laws, not mobs. Now is the time to put this election behind us once and for all. We must unify as one nation to defeat our real enemy, … as Americans, there is no problem we can’t solve, and no challenge we can’t meet.”
Snyder said despite his political differences with Whitmer, he agrees with Whitmer’s calls for unity.
“While we come from different backgrounds and political parties, Governor Whitmer and I share a deep love for our country,” Snyder said in the press release. “We must always remember that we are Americans first, and we are not one another’s enemy. That’s why I join with Governor Whitmer in calling on people of goodwill across America to pray for peace, calm, and healing.”
Daily Staff Reporter Julia Forrest contributed to reporting.
This is a developing story. Check back at michigandaily.com for updates.
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