When both branches of Congress met during a joint session on Wednesday to certify President-elect Joe Biden's Electoral College victory, many journalists, law enforcement officials and national security experts feared that violence would occur in the streets of Washington, D.C. But it came as a major shock when a violent mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol, a disturbing series of events recounted by reporters Andrew Egger and Audrey Fahlberg in an article published by The Dispatch the following day.
On January 6, President Donald Trump and his allies — including Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, Kimberly Guilfoyle (Trump, Jr.'s girlfriend and the ex-wife of California Gov. Gavin Newsom) and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani — spoke at a demonstration on the National Mall. They called their event the "Save America March," and Trump, Sr. continued to promote his debunked claims that widespread voter fraud occurred during the 2020 presidential election. Extremists who showed up in support of Trump included the Proud Boys, militia members, neo-Confederates and supporters of the conspiracy cult QAnon.
"The people most determined to start a riot at the Capitol were the ones who were there first," Egger and Fahlberg explain. "As Trump's speech dragged on, first a trickle, then a stream of rally-goers peeled off and started to march down the Mall. But by the time the first of them arrived, the mayhem was already underway. Protesters who had forgone the speech had pushed through a series of police barriers onto the lawn and had even scaled a tall scaffold near the steps of the Capitol itself."
The journalists go on to note that the "tension" in Washington, D.C. on January 6 "ratcheted higher still once news trickled out that Vice President Mike Pence, in defiance of Trump's repeated requests and threats, had announced he did not have the power to unilaterally throw out electoral votes." One angry Trump supporter, in response said, "Pence sold us out" — and two young women began chanting, "Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!"
Egger and Fahlberg note some of the things that extremists had to say about the storming of the Capitol Building. Ron Russell, a Trump supporter from Ohio, told The Dispatch, "I see justice being done. This is our house, our house. We're taking it back. May not be today, but we will take this house back, guaranteed."
Robert Unterzuber, a friend of Russell, predicted that future attacks on the Capitol Building will be even more violent — telling The Dispatch, "We're coming to the Capitol, and we're going to tear her down if necessary and drag them people out of there."
Similarly, Christopher Alberts, a Trump supporter from Maryland, told The Dispatch, "The people that were here today are going to come back even more, and we're not coming back peacefully — and we're not coming back unarmed. America's long overdue for revolution."
Anthony Maffei, another Trumpista, told The Dispatch, "If we have to get violent, then it's time to get violent."
Vox reporter Aaron Rupar pointed out that there are other signs of continued violence from pro-Trump extremists:
Parler post from MAGA wingnut threatens armed attack in DC on January 19 https://t.co/biQZ6Qx2LW
— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar)1610045299.0