Police Munition at the Capitol Building on Jan. 6. | Photo by Leah Millis | Reuters.com
As designated by the United States Constitution, the House and Senate held a joint session to certify the Electoral College results of the 2020 election, when an angry pro-Trump riot broke into the U.S. Capitol building and the House and Senate chambers to disrupt the proceedings.
Before the riot
In the 2020 presidential election, current President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence lost to President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris by 74 electoral votes and over seven million popular votes.
Sore at this historic loss, Trump pursued lawsuits and recounts, all but one of which failed due to lack of evidence. Trump continued to claim the election was “rigged” and advocated for the overturn of results, even begging Georgia election officials to “give” him votes in a recent phone call.
Just yesterday, before the violent outbreak, Trump held a rally in front of the White House at the Eclipse to continue these false claims. Many believe that Trump’s 70-minute remarks at the event incited the violence that followed at the Capitol.
The president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., prepped the crowd with warnings to some Republican members of Congress. The latter of which does not support the president’s efforts.
“We’re coming for you,” Trump, Jr. said.
Before the president took the stage, his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani called for “trial by combat” to overturn the election.
“We want to be so respectful of everybody,” the president said. “And we are going to have to fight much harder. And Mike Pence is going to have to come through for us, and if he doesn’t, that will be a sad day for our country. Because you’re sworn to uphold our Constitution.”
Trump repeatedly requested that the vice president block electors from being counted. Pence released a statement against the president’s wishes, reiterating that he cannot reject electors unilaterally.
“It is my considered judgment that my oath to support and defend the Constitution constrains me from claiming unilateral authority to determine which electoral votes should be counted and which should not,” said Pence in a letter to Congress.
There would need to be a majority in both chambers to reject the electors from a given state. This was nearly impossible as Democrats control the House and with minimal support from Republicans in the Senate. Ultimately, Congress’ joint session affirmed the electoral votes as submitted by the states with failed objections to both Arizona and Pennsylvania.
Shortly after Congress began debating objections to Arizona’s electoral votes, a large and hostile mob of Trump supporters forcefully made their way into the Capitol building and eventually into the House and Senate chambers.
Once rioters began to enter the chambers, key officials including Vice President Mike Pence, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President pro tempore Chuck Grassley were taken to an undisclosed and secure location.
During the riot, Congress members, leaders, staff, and reporters were evacuated while insurrectionists vandalized and occupied the building. More rioters gathered on Capitol grounds waving confederate, Trump and American flags. The disorder was later pushed out by Capitol police and other law enforcement agencies, such as the Metropolitan Police and the National Guard.
This incident left at least four people dead, and many police and violent protesters injured. At least two explosives-like devices were also found in the area. Arrests continued into the night and Thursday, and the FBI continues to look for leads.
This violent episode came as a shock to the nation, leaving many worried as the republic was threatened. Here at Wright State University (WSU), many college students who voted in the 2020 election feel upset and troubled by the incident.
Sophomore Masada Warner expressed concern with the incident after planning to celebrate Senator-Elects Warnock and Ossoff of Georgia’s victories.
“I was really expecting to spend the day thrilled about Warnock and Ossoff’s wins in Georgia, only to wake up and discover a virulent display of racism and antisemitism trying to undermine our democracy,” said Warner.
In response to the incident, WSU President Sue Edwards released a statement to the campus community on Thursday.
“We in the Wright State University community denounce that kind of behavior and will always embrace open dialogue and respectfully listening to others’ opinions,” said Edwards. “There is NEVER a justification for hatred, racism, or disrespectful and violent behavior.”
As this may be a difficult time for many, some students may require emotional support and assistance. Students have access to Counseling and Wellness Services, which can be contacted during regular business hours at 937-775-3407. Students can also utilize the Raider Cares 24- hour mental health hotline by calling 833-848-1765.
Student Advocacy and Wellness can be contacted during regular business hours at 937-775-3749 and at their 24-hour hotline at 937-260-0167.