Five days after supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, new videos reveal the level of violence that has left lawmakers curling up inside and police screaming for the safeguard.
The images disseminated on social networks show a police officer dragged and beaten on the ground; protesters chanting to “hang” Vice President Mike Pence; and a group of protesters appearing to be looking for senior officials inside the building.
The videos, which have been posted regularly on the internet since the January 6 unrest, show Trump supporters to be far more aggressive and violent than the footage seen that day.
“We arrived almost half of the House on the verge of death on Wednesday,” Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said, calling it “an insurgency against the United States.”
Five people died on Capitol Hill that day: a police officer was reportedly hit on the head with a fire extinguisher; a protester was shot dead inside the main Congress building by police while trying to break down a door; and three other “medical emergencies” protesters during the melee.
Another Capitol police officer reportedly committed suicide four days after the attack. It is not known if the two events were linked.
– More frightening than Iraq –
The first videos showed that a noisy crowd was pushing its way, without special coordination, in front of the police to break into the Capitol.
But the latest footage shows organized groups among the larger crowd, many wearing military assault-type uniforms, massively attacking police in greater numbers with masts, batons, hockey sticks and chemical sprays. One person attacked the officers with a crutch.
In another video, a policeman screams in pain when he is crushed between two swinging doors as protesters enter from one side and police push back. A protester attempted to tear off the officer’s gas mask.
Many protesters belonging to armed militias and after the discovery of two homemade bombs on nearby buildings, police and lawmakers saw a serious threat.
“I spoke to officers who had been on two tours of Iraq and said it was more frightening to them than their time in combat,” said Washington Police Chief Robert Contee.
– “Hang Pence” –
One of the targets of the mob’s anger was Pence, who rejected pressure from Trump to shut down congressional work that day, which would confirm Joe Biden – and not Trump – as the clear winner of the elections of the November 3.
“Mike Pence did not have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our country and our Constitution,” Trump tweeted as protesters descended on Capitol Hill.
The buildings were ordered to be locked, and as the vice president was taken to secret and secure premises inside the Congress complex, outside a video was released, the crowd chanted “Hang on Mike Pence”.
Inside, a video shows men dressed in combat gear wearing numerous zippered plastic handcuffs, suggesting they were hoping to grab elected officials.
Lawmakers took cover: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described how they barricaded doors, turned off lights and hid under tables for two and a half hours before the crowds were brought under control .
Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund said the threat was clear from the start.
“As soon as they reached the fence, the fight started,” he told the Washington Post.
“They came with riot helmets, gas masks, shields, pepper spray, fireworks, climbing gear – climbing gear! – explosives, metal pipes, baseball bats, ”he said.
“I have never seen anything like it in 30 years of events in Washington. ”
Sund, who resigned over the inability to defend the US legislature, said two days earlier he had urged the National Guard to mobilize to protect the white-domed Capitol building.
But House Sergeant-at-Arms Paul Irving told him the appearance of uniformed troops on the building’s steps would be bad.
On the day of the attack, Sund said the Pentagon was reluctant to deploy the National Guard.
Half an hour after the arrival of the demonstrators, he called for reinforcements. But we told him again that it wouldn’t be nice.
National Guard troops were eventually mobilized but did not arrive until after the fighting was over and Washington police secured the building.
“This is how election results are contested in a banana republic – not in our democratic republic,” former President George W. Bush said.
© 2021 AFP