The law enforcement presence Wednesday night, like the one used on protesters at Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017 and Black Lives Matter protesters in 2020, was a reminder that the capital of the world’s most powerful country does not lack for security forces. As a collective body, the agencies are abundant and well-armed, and they are tapped into a billion-dollar intelligence-sharing apparatus. Not that Wednesday’s rally was some secret, nor was its conclusion unforeseeable. The rally that preceded the storming of the Capitol had been hyped for weeks, including by the president himself, who for the past four years has had a direct relationship to many acts of staggering right-wing violence.
In a statement released Thursday, Capitol Police Chief Steven A. Sund, said his officers “responded valiantly when faced with thousands of individuals involved in violent riotous actions,” and noted that nearly 20 state, local, and federal agencies, including the National Guard, responded to the day’s events. More than 50 officers were injured, he said, adding, “The violent attack on the U.S. Capitol was unlike any I have experienced in my 30 years in law enforcement here in Washington D.C.”
The insurrectionary mob was met with some resistance as they descended on the Capitol — some, but not much. Police did use chemical agents against the crowd, but by and large the response bore little resemblance to the iron-fisted crackdown on racial justice protesters witnessed in Washington, D.C., and cities across the country just months before. The rampagers shouted at the police, calling them traitors, and threw punches at officers without consequence. Trump’s red-capped supporters then crashed through windows and doors of the Capitol. Some waved the flag of the Confederacy; many more carried banners bearing the president’s name. While some Capitol Police officers swung their clubs at the advancing insurgents, at least one indulged them with a selfie.
At least one woman was shot and killed by police during Wednesday’s assault. Three more died from medical emergencies, the Associated Press reported. When they were through, Trump’s irregular forces walked out of the building triumphant and unmasked, smiling as a law enforcement officer held the door for them. “We love you. You’re very special,” the president said to his supporters in a video message, telling them they could now go home. Police reported recovering pipe bombs outside both the Democratic and Republican National Committees, as well as a long gun and Molotov cocktail.theintercept Capitol Storming Was Openly Planned but Ignored by Law Enforcement