Lawmakers, former police officials and security analysts expressed anger and amazement over how pro-Trump protesters were able to storm the Capitol with ease during Wednesday’s riot.
Capitol police were described as being completely unprepared for the anger and aggression of the president’s backers, who had been egged on by Trump to march to the Capitol at a protest rally on the National Mall earlier in the day.
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While one protester was shot and killed by police, other officers appeared to stand by and watch as the mob entered the Capitol building, roaming through its halls and ransacking offices as they sought to disrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory.
Security analysts noted that no specialized police units were stationed in front of the Capitol despite the tense atmosphere in the city and violent clashes between Trump’s backers and police the previous night.
The mob appeared to encounter little resistance from Capitol police and no reinforcements arrived as the siege progressed, former Seattle police chief Carmen Best observed.
“I was wondering, where were the cops? If they don’t get there soon, what else could transpire?” she told NBC. “It felt like a very long time, and I’m sure millions of people were also watching and thinking the same thing.”
Given the heated political rhetoric over the counting of Electoral College votes, Best said it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that there would be a large protest at the Capitol.
“It all paints a picture and sets a tone for what is likely to occur,” she said. “It’s all about the staffing. Given what we’ve seen over the last several months, it shouldn’t shock people.”
“What happened here is a colossal failure, and I believe it’s a colossal political failure, not on the part of the police,” former Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis told USA Today. “They were outnumbered and overrun.”
Rather, he said, the incident was “the result of a lack of political will to control an attempted insurrection.”
“How it happened, I can’t figure that out,” former Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine said, adding that he was surprised arrests weren’t made as soon as rioters gathered on the Capitol steps, which is illegal.
“We protect the people, the place and the process that makes us the United States. That’s why we’re there,” he told the Washington Post. But Wednesday he said, “The people, the place, the process — all were attacked.”
“This was a piss-poor planning performance,” retired New York Police Department Deputy Chief Thomas Graham told The Daily Beast. “They weren’t prepared for whatever reason. They weren’t prepared to protect the Capitol. Shame on them.”
One lawmaker, Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., said Thursday she feared for her life when pro-Trump protesters stormed the Capitol.
“I was frightened that it would be a mass casualty incident, that if they had automatic weapons they could have killed hundreds of members of Congress,” she told CNN, adding, “It wouldn’t be unusual to come and present your opinion, but these were terrorists. These were thugs. These were dangerous people.”
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered that a state of public emergency she initially declared on Wednesday would be extended for 15 days until Jan. 21 — one day after Biden is expected to be inaugurated.
“Many persons came to the District armed and for the purpose of engaging in violence and destruction and have engaged in violence and destruction,” the order states.
“They have fired chemical irritants, bricks, bottles, and guns. They have breached the security of the Capitol and their destructive and riotous behavior has the potential to spread beyond the Capitol.
“Their motivation is ongoing. Today, they sought to disrupt the congressional proceedings relating to the acceptance of electoral college votes.”
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