The Capitol Riot Summarized

The Capitol Riot Summarized

Anna Dabrowski, Head Editor

The Domestic Coup 

Coup, pronounced coo, is defined as a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government. What we all witnessed in the afternoon and evening of January 6th was an attempt at a domestic coup, as well as an attack on democracy as we know it. This article will be covering solely the events of this attempted coup, but Breanna Reynolds will have another article discussing how the U.S. got to this point out shortly. The events of said coup will be retold in chronological order to the best of my ability. The retelling of events in this article do not contain bias. The only parts that are not flat retelling are my thoughts at the end.

It would be easy to jump into the timeline of the gathering crowd, and to recount how it swelled as the hours past. But to effectively convey how this insurrection happened it is necessary to go back farther. President Trump repeatedly incited the Capitol mob weeks before the riot. He posted tweets that said that his followers should band together and march on the Capitol on January 6th. The reason for this date was of course the fact that on January 6th the Senate was certifying the electoral votes for President Elect Joe Biden. President Trump decided to hold a rally that very day at the White House. During the rally he constantly conveyed that he believed that the election results were fraudulent, and encouraged his followers to march to the Capitol and protest. He also said, “I will be there with you.”

Earlier in the morning before Trump even began his rally, hundreds of supporters had already gathered on the Capitol lawn. Many were members of the racist Proud Boys organization. The crowds continued to swell and increased rapidly when 15 minutes into his rally speech Donald Trump said, ”You have to show strength,” and continued to encourage supporters to march. Before his speech even ended a steady stream of supporters began marching to the Capitol. At around 12:50 p.m. two pipe bombs were reported. One at the Republican National Committee and another at the Democratic National Committee, both are only around a block away from the Capitol. 

Around 1 p.m. the first set of barriers around the Capitol were breached as Congress began its session. Trump had not yet even finished his speech and the first fences were being toppled. The protesters became violent and began to fight their way past the first lines of police. The mob quickly pushed the police force back onto the Capitol steps. The police then called in for backup and the delivery of riot gear. All while this was happening, President Trump was still encouraging his supporters to, “Walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.” Both sides, the rioters and the police, began to spray chemical agents at each other. 

At 1:50 p.m. rioters began to tear through the scaffolding in front of the Capitol’s steps and moved closer and cl0ser to the building. The chief of the Capitol Police made requests for immediate assistance from the D.C. National Guard. A few minutes later the rioters reached the doors on the east side of the Capitol. At the same time, police officers were recorded on video while removing the north east barrier. Questions as to why they did this are up in the air. An investigation has been launched, considering opening the barriers was the exact opposite of what they were supposed to be doing.

At 2:20 p.m. the rioters finally broke into the actual Capitol building by scaling the walls. The Senate was still in session debating, oblivious to the outside events. The mob reached the stairs of the Senate chamber, and only then did the Senate call a recess. As this happened rioters continue to flow into the building and commit acts of vandalism such as breaking windows. Rioters chased an officer to the top of a staircase that led to the entrances to the Senate floor. The officer tricked the rioters and led them in a separate direction. It should be noted that the senators were still inside the chamber, and the police had still not locked all of the doors. At 2:25 p.m. Trump posted tweets attacking Vice President Mike Pence for allowing the certification of the electoral votes. This shocked the nation because Pence had remained loyal to Trump for four years and was now being attacked by him.

Five minutes after the rioters breached the building the House of Representatives also went into recess. The mob outside the Capitol has grown by the thousands and they started violently beating officers. One officer was beaten to death with a fire extinguisher, and a rioter was shot, later dying in the hospital. At 2:40 p.m. Trump tweeted, “stay peaceful.” Even though he was aware of the extreme violence, he did not tell the rioters to go home. Rioters entered the Senate floor as well as private offices and vandalized as well as took pictures. All leaders had been evacuated at this point. At 4:15 p.m. Trump finally made a speech telling the rioters to go home, but once again restated that the election was fraudulent. National Guard troops numbering over a thousand arrived, and after three hours the crowd dispersed far enough away from the building that it was again declared secure. The mayor also enacted a 6 p.m. curfew, which many rioters ignored as they continued to “protest” well into the late evening. Congress reconvened at 8 p.m. and many Republicans spoke out against Trump and changed their vote to support the certification of the electoral votes. The electoral votes were certified very late at night.

My Thoughts

President Donald Trump is the most divisive president in modern history. He continually spread false information that questioned the security of our elections which encouraged people to riot. He did not call off the insurrection soon enough, and even when he did it was halfheartedly. I do not know if the police were trying to show their support for the riot by opening the barriers, but their behavior in contrast to the BLM protests over the summer was astounding. The fact that Trump said he would march to the Capitol, and then didn’t even do that, shows something about his character (on top of the fact that he incited mob violence). Many members of his cabinet have resigned since the riot and articles of impeachment were introduced to Congress yesterday (Jan 13th). I’m at a loss for words because this year has been so saturated with awful things that I am now numb to everything that happens. I support Joe Biden’s endeavor in trying to bring America back together during his term.


Works Cited

Leatherby, Lauren, et al. “How a Presidential Rally Turned Into a Capitol Rampage.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Jan. 2021,

Petras, George, et al. “Timeline: How a Trump Mob Stormed the US Capitol, Forcing Washington into Lockdown.” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 13 Jan. 2021,