January 6, chaos inside and outside the Capitol – KSNF / KODE – FourStatesHomepage.com
THE BACKGROUND: On January 6, as Congress convened to certify Joe Biden’s victory, hundreds of supporters of President Donald Trump who claimed the election was stolen violently pushed the police, smashed windows and doors and entered the Capitol, forcing lawmakers to stop their work and flee. Among those whose work was turned upside down was Vice President Mike Pence, who presided over the Senate and had to hide from rioters calling for his hanging.
A Capitol police officer collapsed and died after engaging with rioters who descended on the building. A medical examiner later determined he died of natural causes. Many other officers were injured. A California woman was shot dead by Capitol Hill police and three others have died after medical emergencies during the chaos. In the weeks and months that followed, four of the officers who responded to the riot committed suicide.
Federal prosecutors have charged around 700 rioters with crimes such as violent entry and disorderly conduct on the Capitol grounds, assault on a federal law enforcement officer and threatening the Speaker of the House , Nancy Pelosi. So far, more than 120 defendants have pleaded guilty to insurgency-related charges, mostly misdemeanors. A House committee is now investigating the origins of the attack and what Trump did – or did not do – to stop it.
Here, two Associated Press reporters involved in the coverage – once inside the Capitol and one outside – reflect on the story and their own experiences.
JOHN MINCHILLO, photographer, New York, who was beaten by rioters:
I went there with the understanding that there would be potential violence. … That’s why I was there in the first place. The place we were assigned to was near the Washington Monument near the White House. And we understood that this situation escalated quickly before POTUS even came to speak, as the warm-up acts were particularly aggressive.
There were TV screens, and it really felt like a concert. There was a circus quality. And they have big screens and in the photo I took, it really sticks to my mind. They zoomed in on a close up of (Trump’s) eyes and the color grading is really aggressive, with really high contrast. So the darkness is really dark and the lights are really bright and the color is really saturated and… almost looks like a trailer for a Michael Bay movie, like “Transformers”, you know, something like “Rambo”. And they had jets flying over and some really patriotic music and there was camouflage and fatigues and people waving flags. There was really intense music and it was very militaristic.
(AP photographer Julio Cortez and I then ran over to the Capitol.) We turn around and look towards the Washington Monument and there’s just a sea of people and they’re starting to pour in. And we knew at that time that it was going to go sideways very quickly, because we are looking behind us and there were 20 policemen and some metal barricades. They erected more metal barricades for a typical parade in New York City than they had there.
I knew implicitly not to touch the ground and not to retaliate. You must defuse. … And I’m like, “If I do something to get these guys to start rocking me, they’re going to turn on everyone.” …. I knew if I started to sway…. they will kill me, right? They’ll stomp on your neck and you’re done. … And they were going to catch everyone who had a press card. After Julio and I calmed them down, they turned around and said, “It’s Antifa! “… They go from calling me” press “to” Antifa “, like that. And that’s when I was thrown over a wall.
I was relieved that we got out. And then I was angry that we were pulled forward. We tried to come back through three different doors. We were at the door in front of the mall and at the top of the stairs. It was risky again and they attacked me again. So we understood that at that time, we were not going to enter. We were very frustrated about it.
MARY CLARE JALONICK, Congressional reporter, Washington, DC, was in the House of the House
At 1 p.m., the electoral count began. It started off normally, with both sides debating the electoral count of certain states… At one point I said to my editor, “I’m going to go out and try to look out the window and see what happens. And a member of the gallery staff and I went to look out the front window of the Capitol. It was kind of like one of those moments in a movie where it’s just like “Oh my God”, because we looked outside and it was so crowded. Usually there is a perimeter at events like this, but there was no perimeter and people were right against the building.
All of a sudden there was a lockdown at the Capitol. The House wobbled inside and outside the sessions and there was a lot of chaos on the floor as members tried to figure out what was going on. And then at one point they broke down for the last time and a Capitol Police officer walked up to the podium and started speaking into the microphone. This is where you see the President speaking to the State of the Union – it is not a normal thing for a Capitol Police officer to speak to the members of the podium. And he said: “there was a breach and tear gas was dispersed in the rotunda of the Capitol.” He told the members, “you have to take your gas masks off from under your chairs,” and I don’t think many members even knew there were gas masks under their chairs. So it was total pandemonium on the ground. People are shouting, “Lock the doors! Lock the doors! ”There were members shouting about Trump, and a Democrat shouted at Republicans,“ It’s your fault! It was just utter chaos. A member was on his desk trying to get over it. help people put on their gas masks, and eventually they gave us gas masks in the press gallery and we’re trying to figure them out, and we have no idea how to open this thing or if we should. and when you open it there’s this really, really loud buzz. So all of a sudden there’s this loud buzz echoing all over the room. And at one point we looked down and the Home chaplain, who had just started a few days ago, was saying a prayer. It was definitely a time where it was like, “OK, that’s pretty serious.”
The police evacuated all of the House members who were upstairs, but all of us in the upper gallery, the press and the House members, were still there because there were rioters in the right hallway. outside. They moved everyone to one end of the gallery and the police told us to duck down. At one point, as everyone dodged, there was a loud gunshot that rang out throughout the room. As it turned out, it was the gunshot that killed Ashli Babbitt, a rioter who was trying to enter through a broken window above a door right next to the House’s bedroom. And when that happened, the members really started to panic. Some of them were screaming to take your pins off, and there was obviously a lot of fear.
For a full overview of the events that shaped 2021, “A Year That Changed Us: 12 Months in 150 Photos”, a collection of AP photos and journalist memorabilia, is available now: https: // www. ap.org/books / a-year-that-changed-us