Queens elected officials are reacting in disbelief on social media as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol and breached the building, while the House and Senate conducted the acceptance process for the electoral vote certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s victory on Wednesday, Jan. 6.
On Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, many of whom weren’t wearing masks, at a rally near the White House, falsely claiming he won. After his rally, a group of his supporters then marched over to the Capitol building where Congress was meeting, aggressively overturning barricades and clashing with police.
Police used tear gas and pepper spray on some of the protesters, some of whom were members of militia and far-right groups, according to Reuters reporting.
Soon after, a number of protesters managed to get into the building, which has been closed to the public.
Police officers are holding them steps away from the Senate chamber, which is locked. Senators are inside. I see a few confederate flags. pic.twitter.com/YI7X7KmuUG
— Igor Bobic (@igorbobic) January 6, 2021
Police then called for several office buildings as well as private homes to be evacuated.
By 2 p.m., Queens Congresswoman Grace Meng said she and her colleagues were on lockdown.
We are on lockdown now. Everyone be safe. Stay away from windows and doors. https://t.co/mDDi5I3oEI
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) January 6, 2021
Queens Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz said she is sending Queens Congress members, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Gregory Meeks and Meng “prayers for safety.”
Sending my friends and colleagues @Grace4NY, @AOC & @GregMeeksNYC prayers for safety. No matter what you believe, they are doing their job. They are there to represent their community. It shouldn’t be this scary or dangerous. https://t.co/Buh0iSXdmy
— Catalina Cruz, Esq. (@CatalinaCruzNY) January 6, 2021
Shortly after, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez said she is “sheltering in place.”
After being in the House chamber to certify the results of a fair and free election, I am now sheltering in place.
The President and every single Republican who incited and encouraged this behavior must denounce it immediately.
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) January 6, 2021
The ceremony, which was thought to last a few hours, was put on hold after protesters breached the inside of the building.
Congressman Tom Suozzi is in the House Chambers and wrote on Twitter that the doors were locked as protesters breached Capitol Police Security.
“I believe that debate will begin again soon,” Suozzi wrote. “We must simply rely on our values and get through this day. Do not be afraid.”
I am in the Capitol in the House Chambers. The doors have been locked as protesters have breached Capitol Police security.
I believe that debate will begin again soon. We must simply rely on our values and get through this day. Do not be afraid.
— Tom Suozzi (@RepTomSuozzi) January 6, 2021
Shortly after his tweet, Suozzi hosted a live press call from inside the Capitol, telling reporters he and his colleagues were told to be prepared to “go underneath their chairs.”
“And then we started to hear some people banging at the doors. Capital police drew their weapons,” Suozzi said. “Something broke through the main door. The glass is broken, I don’t know if it was shots.”
Suozzi said after about 30 minutes, they were allowed to leave the chambers, and saw six to 10 protesters on the floor, surrounded by Capitol police.
“I feel very strongly that we have to get back to the chambers and we need to certify this election,” Suozzi added, saying they can’t allow “thugs” and “violent people” to win.
As the events unfolded live, Queens elected officials began to share their reactions on Twitter.
Astoria Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris wondered what the response from law enforcement would have been Black Lives Matter protesters.
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) January 6, 2021
Every single Senator and member of Congress objecting to the election results is encouraging this behavior.
Don’t forget their names
— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) January 6, 2021
Councilman Costa Constantinides wrote on Twitter, “Law and order when it suits him. This is a national disgrace that we cannot have a peaceful transfer of power. Shame on those who enable this nonsense.”
Law and order when it suits him. This is a national disgrace that we cannot have a peaceful transfer of power. Shame on those who enable this nonsense
— Costa Constantinides (@Costa4NY) January 6, 2021
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards kept his tweet short, simply writing, “Domestic terrorism” in response to the events.
— Donovan Richards (@DrichardsQns) January 6, 2021
Councilman Peter Koo called the day’s events “disgraceful.”
What's happening in our nation's capitol is disgraceful. The president must commit to a peaceful transition of power and stop with the conspiracy theories
— Peter Koo (@CMPeterKoo) January 6, 2021
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, also calling the protesters “terrorists,” writing that Trump “should be arrested for sedition and treason. He called for this violence.”
.@realDonaldTrump should be arrested immediately for sedition and treason. He called for this violence.
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) January 6, 2021
Senator Jessica Ramos wrote, “If this doesn’t make you regret your vote for Trump, if you think this is okay, you’re not a patriot.”
If this doesn’t make you regret your vote for Trump, if you think this is okay, you’re not a patriot.
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) January 6, 2021
Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich wrote the “chaos that is currently underway at our nation’s Capitol is an embarrassment. People have a right to protest but this is pure anarchy. No American, Democrat or Republican, should ever condone violence. #DCProtests”
The chaos that is currently underway at our nation’s Capitol is an embarrassment. People have a right to protest but this is pure anarchy. No American, Democrat or Republican, should ever condone violence. #DCProtests
— Eric Ulrich (@eric_ulrich) January 6, 2021
Trump first tweeted his discontent with his Vice President Pence after he refused to unilaterally block the votes, then called for his supporters to “Stay peaceful!”
“Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement,” he wrote on Twitter. “They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”
Trump tweeted again at 3 p.m. reiterating to his supporters to remain peaceful.
“I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” he wrote. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
Several weeks have passed since the states completed certifying that Biden won the election with 306 Electoral College votes to Trump’s 232. Trump’s challenges to Biden’s victory have floundered in courts across the country for months.
But that hasn’t stopped several Republican lawmakers, who have promised to come out against the certification, including newly-elected Staten Island Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis.
Following Pence’s refusal to block the votes, Senator Mitch McConnell also rejected his fellow Republicans’ attempts to challenge the election results.
Congressman Gregory Meeks took to Twitter to call the events an “attempted coup.”
“The world is watching as the greatest democracy braces against an attempted coup, stirred by its leader who’d rather watch the country burn than transition power,” Meeks wrote. “Our ability to advocate for democracy around the world will be significantly hurt after this tragic day in America.”
The world is watching as the greatest democracy braces against an attempted coup, stirred by its leader who’d rather watch the country burn than transition power.
Our ability to advocate for democracy around the world will be significantly hurt after this tragic day in America.
— Rep. Gregory Meeks (@RepGregoryMeeks) January 6, 2021
Attorney General Letitia James also called the riots an attempted coup in a statement about the ongoing unrest.
“The coup attempt initiated by outgoing President Trump has been despicable. Today, it became violent. If blood is shed, it will be on his hands. These actions, fueled by lies and wild conspiracy theories espoused by President Trump, must be unequivocally condemned by every corner of our society,” James said. “Ultimately, I am confident the rule of law will prevail. Joe Biden, our duly elected president, will assume office on January 20th and history will remember this as a sad but unsuccessful attempt to destroy our democratic republic.”
According to some reports, electeds have called for the National Guard and the FBI to assist with law enforcement.
Councilman Barry Grodenchik added it’s not only an “attempted coup,” but also “an act of treason.” He called on everyone participating in it to be arrested and prosecuted.
This is an attempted coup!! An act of treason against our nation. Every single person participating must be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This will be the new Attorney General's first order of duty! #ArrestTrump #25AmendmentNow
— Barry Grodenchik (@BarryGrodenchik) January 6, 2021
Councilman Robert Holden called the events “disturbing” and “unacceptable.”
The events unfolding in our nation’s Capitol are disturbing. Violence is never the answer, and putting our law enforcement and members of the public in danger is unacceptable. This has to stop.
— Robert Holden (@BobHoldenNYC) January 6, 2021
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney addressed her constituents with a video from her office in the Capitol, where they are being told to stay.
“I never thought that I would see what I am seeing now: Protesters breaking into the Capitol, breaking into the chambers of the United States Congress and the United States Senate,” said Maloney. “This is something that I read about and watch in foreign countries, but not in the great, Democratic election-respecting United States of America.”
My staff and I are safe and sheltering in place.
I am proud of America, to be a Member of the House of Representatives, but I am not proud of this. pic.twitter.com/JR7Spxidq2
— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) January 6, 2021
Biden addressed the nation by 4 p.m., calling for Trump to “step up” and rebuke the riots.
“At their best the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, they can incite,” Biden continued. “Therefore, I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege.”
Trump took to Twitter with a video statement as Biden spoke live, where he again reiterated the “election was stolen” and addressed his supporters currently rioting at the Capitol as “very special.”
“You have to go home now, we have to have peace, we have to have law and order, we have to respect our great people in law and order, we don’t want anybody hurt,” he said. “It’s a very tough period of time, there’s never been a time like this, where such a thing happened, where they could take it away from all of us — from me, from you, from our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home, we love you, you’re very special. You’ve seen what happens, you see the way others are treated that are so bad, and so evil. I know how you feel. But go home, and go home at peace.”
Shortly after Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a curfew starting at 6 p.m.
During a press conference with the Mayor at 4 p.m., Metropolitan Police Chief of Police Robert J. Contee III went through some of the events of the day, saying that as demonstrators approached the U.S. Capitol grounds, “there was a noticeable change in their demeanor.”
“M.P.D. was requested by the United States Capitol Police to provide assistance with crowd management and due to the violent behaviors towards the police officers there and their intent on gaining access to the Capitol, a riot was declared,” Contee said. “It was clear that the crowd was intent on causing harm to our officers by deploying chemical irritants on police to force entry into the United States Capitol building.”
Contee confirmed one person was shot inside of the Capitol, but details of the shooting are not yet available while it remains under investigation.
CBS News later reported the woman who was shot has died.
D.C. police officials have reportedly arrested 13 people so far.
Capitol police began walking out rioters and others prior to the 6 p.m. curfew. With reports that arrests were not being made, Congresswoman Meng wrote “there were more officers here for [Black Likes Matter] protests.”
“Protestors today broke into People’s House, tore down barriers, damaged property & fired shots,” Meng wrote. “I’ve never been scared for my life during BLM protests, i was terrified for my life today. I said ‘bye’ to family & I’m still hiding.”
There were more officers here for #BLM protests. Protestors today broke into People’s House, tore down barriers, damaged property & fired shots. I’ve never been scared for my life during BLM protests, i was terrified for my life today. I said ‘bye’ to family & I’m still hiding. https://t.co/G1Fg0PRRp6
— Grace Meng (@Grace4NY) January 6, 2021
By 5:30 p.m., Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said her and her staff are “safe and currently under lockdown.”
“The storming of the U.S. Capitol is a stain on American democracy,” Gillibrand stated. “Make no mistake — this disgraceful violence will not stop the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the events at the Capitol later in the evening.
“The cornerstone of our democracy is the peaceful transfer of power. We must call this what it actually is: a failed attempt at a coup,” Cuomo stated. “This is the final chapter of an incompetent, cruel, and divisive administration that has trampled on the Constitution and the rule of law at every turn, and we won’t let President Trump, the members of Congress who enable him, or the lawless mob that stormed our nation’s Capitol steal our democracy. The election results are clear and the will of the American people will be carried out.”
According to Politico, the House and Senate will reconvene at 8 p.m. to continue the certification of Biden’s Electoral College win.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave constituents an update via Twitter that she was “OK,” after being “barricaded in for several hours.”
“For now, we must focus on task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote.
Was barricaded in for several hours. I’ll tell y’all about it later.
For now, we must focus on task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2021
Additional reporting by Reuters.
This story was updated at 7 p.m. and is still developing. Check back for more updates.