Attack on the United States Capitol Building

US Capitol Building
The United States Capitol building, January 6, 2021

On January 6, 2021, in Washington, D.C., a hostile group of Trump supporters attacked the United States Capitol building as Congress was in session. They wanted to stop Congress from certifying [formally recognizing] the electoral votes that would make President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s election official. The Capitol has been closed to the public for security reasons during the ongoing pandemic. The rioters broke through barricades and invaded the building. Vice President Mike Pence and members of Congress evacuated to secure locations for their safety. Many police officers sustained injuries during the attack. One has died from those injuries. A Capitol Police officer shot and killed one woman as she attempted to enter a barricaded door inside the building. Three others died of medical emergencies during the violence. After law enforcement secured the Capitol building, Congress reconvened. Later that night, they made the election results official.

Democratic governments rely on the peaceful transition of power and peaceful protest. The loser of an election willingly surrenders power to the winner. President Donald Trump has refused to concede [admit that something is true] his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. He claims that officials in some cities and states cheated to make President-Elect Joe Biden the winner. He targeted false claims towards cities with larger African American populations. The states, many courts, and the United States Justice Department have found no evidence that the election results were wrong.

Earlier in the day, President Trump spoke to his supporters at a rally. He repeated his false claims that the election was unfair. He told his supporters that they should march to the United States Capitol building and stop Congress from making Joe Biden’s victory official. Marching to the Capitol and demonstrating peacefully is allowed, but people violently and illegally entered the building. This is the first time American citizens have attempted to stop the United States government from completing a constitutional proceeding. It is also the first time in the nation’s history the tradition of the peaceful transition of power has not been honored. President Trump later made a video message telling people to go home. However, he continued to make false claims about the outcome of the election.

President-elect Joe Biden and Republican Senator Mitt Romney described the attack as an insurrection, a violent uprising against the government. Many Americans are shocked that a hostile group could enter the United States Capitol building so easily. Law enforcement seemed ill-equipped and unprepared for the severity of the threat. Representative Cori Bush of Missouri took part in multiracial Black Lives Matter protests throughout the summer. She remarked that police response to those protests was much more forceful than the police response to the attack on Congress by the mainly White rioters. Others continue to doubt the results of the election. Even after the events of the day, several members of Congress objected to certifying Biden’s victory. Their objections were voted down.

The events of January 6, 2021, have disturbed and upset Americans. They have shown how divided the country continues to be. In Washington, D.C., leaders are working to bring peace and order back to the capital city. Across the nation, citizens are looking for ways they can help bring stability back to our country. In a democratic government, the only way to make the government work is for people who disagree to cooperate and work with each other.

What You Can Do Talk to an adult that you trust about the attack on the United States Capitol building. What are you feeling? What questions do you have about what happened? What are ways that you try to resolve conflicts in your life?

Photo Credit: John Nacion/SOPA Images/ZUMA Wire/Alamy Stock Photo