The Speaker
Monday, 24 June 2024 – 07:35

Democracy in Crisis: Capitol engulfed by violence as lawmakers met to confirm Biden win

Supporters of US President Donald Trump breached the Capitol building today where lawmakers were meeting to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win.

Demonstrators, wearing and holding Trump merchandise, including ‘MAGA’ (Make America Great Again) hats breached the building on Wednesday afternoon. The building was placed into lockdown and protesters were escorted out by police.

One person has died after being shot, according to reports. Several others on the scene were also taken to hospital, according to local reports. There was an armed confrontation at the entrance to the House of Representatives, while other scenes showed protesters rummaging through draws of elected officials.

It is understood that tear gas was used and one improvised explosive device was reported on the site.

The dramatic scenes unfolded as a joint session of Congress was being held to ratify Joe Biden’s win in the 3 November election. In recent days, President Trump has been pressurising Mike Pence, who was presiding over the session, to block the certification of the election results, however, Mr Pence said in a letter to Congress on Wednesday that he had no “unilateral authority to decide which electoral votes should be counted”.

Some Republican legislators had been opposing the confirmation of Biden’s win in the session and Trump had urged supporters at a ‘Save America Rally’ which he held to support those legislators.

Following the scenes at the Capitol, President-elect Biden said the violence ‘must end now’ and said ‘our democracy is under unprecedented assault’. After violence had taken place, President Trump urged people in a video message on Twitter to ‘go home’, but repeated baseless claims about election fraud.

The events have been condemned by leaders around the world, including those in the UK. Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the scenes at the Capitol building as ‘disgraceful’, saying that it is ‘now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power.’

Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer described the scenes as ‘horrendous’ and a ‘direct attack on democracy’. Meanwhile, Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage urged protesters to leave, saying ‘Storming Capitol Hill is wrong’.

A citywide curfew has now come into effect in Washington DC. Troops, police, the National Guard and the FBI have all been deployed in an attempt to stabilise the situation.

Donald Trump was defeated in the November 2020 Presidential Election by Joe Biden, with Biden winning 306 electoral college votes, compared to Trump’s 232. Trump has long contested the result of the election and said on Wednesday, ‘We will never give up. We will never concede.’

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