Capitol riots: A visual guide to the storming of Congress


By The Visual Journalism Team

Rioters clash with police trying to enter Capitol building through the front doors - 6 January 2021

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The US is reeling after supporters of President Trump stormed the Capitol building in Washington DC on the day Congress was meeting to confirm Joe Biden’s election victory.

Lawmakers were forced to take shelter, the building was put into lockdown and four people died in the chaos that followed a pro-Trump rally near the White House.

Here’s a breakdown of how events unfolded on Wednesday.

Trump rallies supporters

Just before midday local time (17:00 GMT) thousands of people gather at the Ellipse, near the White House, to hear the president speak at a “Save America” rally.

He tells them: “We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue… and we’re going to the Capitol and we’re going to try and give… our Republicans, the weak ones… the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”

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As the speech ends, crowds start to drift towards the Congress building, about a mile and a half away, where they are met by police barriers.

Clashes begin outside Capitol

Chanting crowds start to gather on both sides of the Capitol at around 13:10, grappling with police at the metal barricades.

Tear gas and pepper spray are used to try to keep the protesters at bay.

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Crowds break police lines

Police officers struggle to maintain control of the situation as protesters advance on the building on multiple fronts.

media captionPolice place US Capitol Building on lockdown after Trump supporters breached security lines

On the east side, the crowd force their way through barricades on the Capitol Plaza and move on the main entrance, quickly gaining access to the Great Rotunda.

Once inside, they head for the House and Senate chambers.

Igor Bobic, a journalist for the Huffington Post, captures a group of men forcing a police officer to retreat up a set of stairs as they continue their advance.

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Senators are forced to abandon the process of confirming President-elect Biden’s victory and the building goes into lockdown.

The doors of the House chamber are locked and a makeshift barricade is erected in front of them. Security officials guard the entrance, guns drawn.

Within an hour, protesters have also broken police lines on the west side of the Capitol, scaling walls to reach the building itself before smashing windows and forcing doors open.

Other videos and images show rioters storming through the building’s ornately-decorated corridors and chambers chanting “USA!” and “Stop the steal”.

Shots fired

Shortly before 15:00, gunshots are reportedly heard inside the building.

Photos and video footage later show a female protester being shot as she tries to break through the barricaded doors of the Speakers’ Lobby.

Despite efforts by police and others at the scene to save her, she is later reported to have died.

On the other side of the building, protesters break into the Senate chamber, one taking seat in the Speaker’s chair.

Another protester is photographed nearby sitting in Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, with his foot on the table.

Building secured

After growing condemnation of the riots, President Trump eventually calls for calm, telling the protesters to leave peacefully: “Go home. We love you, you’re very special.”

By 17:40, the building is cleared and made secure ahead of the 18:00 curfew ordered by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Several thousand National Guard troops, FBI agents and US Secret Service are deployed to help.

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More than six hours after the storming of the building, senators return and resume the day’s business of certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election.

At 03:41 on Thursday, Congress confirms President-elect Joe Biden will succeed President Trump on 20 January.

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