On Wednesday, Americans from every state gathered in the hundreds of thousands to support President Donald Trump as Congress certified the Electoral College vote amid unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.
Multiple speakers addressed the masses, including U.S. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), Georgia State Rep. Vernon Jones — who announced his party switch from Democrat to Republican, Donald Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Eric Trump, Lara Trump, Rudy Giuliani, among others.
The president addressed the giant crowd of peaceful protesters, who lined up since the wee hours of the morning to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other Americans. Some attendees told American Action News that they had met people from every state but Hawaii (yet) who came out to support President Trump. Many people dressed up for the occasion, with one man with a white beard channeling Santa Claus with a red Santa hat. Another man was decked out in an Uncle Sam outfit, while many dressed in colonial-era and Civil War-era attire.
During the president’s speech, Trump detailed allegations of systemic voter fraud in the 2020 election.
“We will never give up. We will never concede; it doesn’t happen. You don’t concede when there’s theft involved,” said the president. He referenced election controversies, including suspect absentee ballot requests and concerns surrounding residency requirements for voting, a problem where people decide to cast a ballot back in a swing state they used to live or had a ballot cast in their name without their knowledge.
Trump also warned Republican members of Congress to fight against the election results, or “we have to primary the hell out of the ones that don’t fight. … We’re gonna let you know who they are.”
During the speech, Trump reiterated his call for Vice President Mike Pence to object to the Electoral College vote. “Mike Pence, I hope you’re gonna stand up for the good of our Constitution and for the good of our country,” said President Trump. “And if you’re not, I’m going to be very disappointed in you, I will tell you right now. I’m not hearing good stories.” Before Congress met to certify the results, Pence conceded that he did not have the “unilateral authority” to do so.
Pence explained himself in the following statement: “Some believe that as Vice President, I should be able to accept or reject electoral votes unilaterally. Others believe that electoral votes should never be challenged in a Joint Session of Congress. After a careful study of our Constitution, our laws, and our history, I believe neither view is correct. He continued, “Our Founders were deeply skeptical of concentrations of power and created a Republic based on separation of powers and checks and balances under the Constitution of the United States. Vesting the Vice President with unilateral authority to decide presidential contests would be entirely antithetical to that design.”
After the rally, President Trump directed the hundreds of thousands of attendees to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol building and give Republicans “The kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
The giant crowd marched to the U.S. Capitol en masse, walking shoulder-to-shoulder, as the streets were packed full of Trump supporters.
As protesters approached the Capitol building, some climbed atop monuments, while others began climbing the 2021 inauguration platform’s scaffolding. According to American Action News, Capitol Police officers began shooting canisters of tear gas at members of the crowd, hoping to disperse the relatively small number who had begun getting unruly the closer they got to the building. Once protesters climbed atop one of the highest points of the scaffolding, the crowd erupted in loud cheers.
En route to the Capitol, giant American flags were passed along the crowd toward the building to be used as shields against tear gas. One of the flags was successfully hoisted onto one of the high platforms, and at that point, supporters cheered.
Many walked away from the Capitol building with red faces and tears in their eyes, the inevitable result of being affected by tear gas. One man told American Action News that a rubber bullet hit him as he staggered away from the crowd.
A group close to the inaugural platform brought an audio speaker up the steps, and multiple individuals used microphones to lead the crowd in the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, while others gave words of encouragement to those who needed it. Once some protesters got the news that the Capitol had been breached and a group got inside, the larger crowd further out erupted again — unaware of the violence that would result from those rioters.
On the other side of the Capitol, facing toward the Supreme Court, people were standing atop an armored vehicle placed directly in front of the Capitol’s main stairway. Thousands of people were climbing the steps when someone shouted that a woman was shot in the neck. That woman, 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, a 14-year Air Force veteran from San Diego died later that night.
Crowds began thinning out after 5:30 p.m. as Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s 6:00 p.m. curfew rapidly approached.
Four people died on the Capitol grounds while the interior of the building was assaulted. The Metropolitan Police Department revealed the three other individuals’ identities earlier today: Kevin Greeson, 55, of Athens, Alabama; Benjamin Phillips, 50, of Ringtown, Pennsylvania; and Roseanne Boyland, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia. Fourteen police officers were injured. It could have been even worse. Two pipe bombs and a long gun were found in a car next to the Republican National Committee headquarters. A cooler of Molotov cocktails were discovered nearby. All before they could be used.
According to USA Today, most of the 52 total arrests last night occurred due to curfew violations. The FBI’s digital media team announced Thursday at 1:15 pm that it’s currently looking for Capitol rioters through social media websites. Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen says more arrests are coming.