Officials have declared the U.S. Capitol complex “secure” after heavily armed police moved to disperse protesters who had gathered outside the Capitol building to demonstrate against the way the 2020 election has been handled. A subgroup of rioters breached the building.
The rioters breached the Capitol building after breaking windows to enter as members of Congress were sitting during a joint session to count Electoral College votes.
In a struggle to get control of the situation, police began evacuating some congressional office buildings due to “police activity.” Some of these buildings include the Cannon House Office Building and the building that houses the Library of Congress. Lawmakers were also evacuated from the building, while some were told to shelter in place in their office.
An announcement saying “the Capitol is secure” rang out Wednesday evening inside a secure location for officials of the House.
The U.S. Capitol Police begun dispersing protesters on Wednesday afternoon after the breach. One female draped in a Trump flag who was among the group who had broken into the Capitol was shot as she attempted to climb through a broken window on a door deeper into the building.
A police spokesman told news outlets that the woman has since died but declined to provide more details on her identity or more information on how the shooting took place.
The demonstrations occurred as Vice President Mike Pence and lawmakers were convening the session, forcing both houses of Congress to halt.
Police were also using tear gas and percussion grenades in an attempt to disperse protesters from the grounds of the U.S. Capitol ahead of a curfew in Washington that is set to begin at 6 p.m on Jan. 6 and end at 6 a.m. on Jan. 7.
Authorities were seen wearing gas masks as crowds were told to leave, amid pockets of violence that erupted on the Capitol grounds.
The Epoch Times reporter Bowen Xiao, who was at the scene, said some protesters began leaving the grounds after police came in. He said some protesters cited the curfew for leaving.
President Donald Trump has called for peace and is urging the protesters to go home.
“You have to go home now. We have to have peace. We have to have law and order and great people in law [enforcement],” Trump said in a video address, which was not allowed to be shared or liked on Twitter, despite Trump calling for non-violence. Twitter has since deleted the video.
“I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now,” he added.
The violence also has been condemned by lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) called the described violence as “un-American,” adding that he was “disappointed at the way our country looks at this very moment.”
Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) jointly called on Trump to “demand that all protestors leave the U.S. Capitol and Capitol grounds immediately.”
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee Robert Contee has called the demonstrations a riot. He said that at least five weapons have been recovered and at least 13 people arrested so far.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden condemned the protests, characterizing them as an “insurrection” that was “bordering on sedition.”
Press Secretary Kaleigh McEnany said in a statement that the president has authorized the National Guard to go to the U.S. Capitol.
The joint session in Congress is expected to extend for several hours as some Republican lawmakers are objecting to certifying electoral college votes in several disputed states over concerns of election irregularities and allegations of voter fraud.