From plastic zip-tie handcuffs to pipe bombs, sinister nature of assault on the Capitol is coming into focus

Under battle flags with Donald Trump’s name, the Capitol attackers stuck a bloody police officer in a door, his twisted face and the videoed screams. They fatally wounded another officer with a blunt weapon and knocked a third over a railing into the crowd.

“Hang Mike Pence!” The insurgents sang as they pushed their way in and beat the police with whistles. They also requested the whereabouts of spokeswoman Nancy Pelosi. They chased all legislators: “Where are they?” Outside there was a makeshift gallows with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs were hidden nearby.

Just days later, the magnitude of the danger of one of the darkest episodes of American democracy comes into focus. The sinister nature of the attack has become evident and has betrayed the crowd as a force determined to occupy the inner sanctuaries of Congress and shut down the leaders – Trump’s Vice President and the Speaker of the Democratic House among them.

This wasn’t just a collection of Trump supporters whose MAGA bling was caught in a wave.

That reveal came in real time to Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Who briefly took over the proceedings in the Chamber of the House as the mob closed on Wednesday and Pelosi was moved to safer areas before things got mixed up.

“I saw this crowd knocking on the glass, screaming,” McGovern told The Associated Press on Sunday. “As I looked at their faces, it occurred to me that these are not demonstrators. These are people who want to cause harm. “

“What I saw before me,” he said, “was basically local fascism, out of control.”

Pelosi said on Sunday, “The evidence is that this is a well-planned, organized group with guidance, guidance and instruction. And the direction was to get people. “She didn’t elaborate on this point in a 60-minute interview on CBS.

The scenes of anger, violence and agony are so great that the whole thing is still incomprehensible. But with countless smartphone videos, most of which come from insurgents themselves, and more lawmakers reporting on the chaos around them, the contours of the uprising are becoming increasingly clear.


The staging

The mob was encouraged by Trump and marched more explicitly by the president’s men.

“Fight like hell,” Trump admonished his partisans at the staging rally. “Let’s fight a battle,” pleaded his lawyer Rudy Giuliani, whose attempt to dismiss the election results in court had failed. It’s time to “jot down names and kick your ass,” said Mo Brooks Republican MP of Alabama.

Criminals pardoned by Trump, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn, reached rallies on the eve of the attack to tell the crowd that they were fighting a battle between good and evil. On Capitol Hill, Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley greeted the Capitol hordes with clenched fists as he pulled up to express his election results challenge.

The crowd was pumped. Until just after 2 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in collaboration with Pence, who was in his ceremonial role as chairman of the trial, was at the forefront of the final minutes of decency.

Both men had supported Trump’s agenda and apologized or ignored his provocations for four years, but now had no mechanism or will to undermine the election Biden won. This made them one of the goals of the insurgents, who in the minds of the mob did not differ from the “socialists”.

“If this election were overturned by mere allegations on the losing side, our democracy would get into a death spiral,” McConnell told his chamber not long before things got out of hand in what lawmakers call the “people’s house.”

Right-wing social media users had openly hinted for weeks that chaos would break out at the Capitol when Congress convened to confirm the election results. As the attack played out, they urged supporters to “trust the plan” and “hold the line”. What the plan might have been is central to the investigation.

The FBI is investigating whether any of the attackers intended to kidnap Congressmen and hold them hostage. Authorities are particularly focused on why some in the crowd were seen wearing plastic zippered handcuffs and what appeared to be access to areas of the Capitol that were generally difficult for the public to locate.

Attackers enter the Senate Chamber in Washington, DC on January 6, 2021. At least two plastic handcuffs with zippers. (Win McNamee / Getty Images)


Thousands had flooded the Capitol. They stormed police and metal barricades in front of the building, and pushed and hit officers in their own way. The attack quickly penetrated the much more numerous police line; Officers ran down a man and beat him.

In hand-to-hand combat outside, near the building erected for Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20, a man threw a fire extinguisher at the head of a police officer. Then he took a megaphone and threw it at officers as well.

The officer’s identity could not be immediately confirmed. But the Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick, wounded in the chaos, died the next night. Officials say he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher.

Shortly after 2 p.m., the Capitol Police sent a warning to workers in an office building in the house to go to the underground transportation tunnels that crisscross the complex. Minutes later, Pence was moved from the Senate Chamber to a secret location and police announced the Capitol lockdown. “You can move around the buildings but stay away from outside windows and doors,” said the email blast. “If you’re outside, take cover.”

At 2:15 p.m. the Senate suspended its debate on the electoral college and a voice could be heard over the chamber’s audio system: “The protesters are in the building.” The chamber doors of the house were barricaded and lawmakers were told to leave possibly ducking under their chairs or moving off the floor of the house in cloakrooms because the mob broke through the Capitol rotunda.

Before the mob even reached the sealed doors of the chamber of the house, the Capitol Police pulled Pelosi away from the podium, saying “60 minutes”.

“I said, ‘No, I want to be here,” she said. “And they said,’ Well, no, you have to go. ‘ I said, “No, I’m not going.” They said, ‘No, you have to go. ‘“So she did.

At 2:44 p.m., as lawmakers were preparing for the evacuation in the Chamber of the House, a gunshot could be heard from the speaker’s lobby on the far right, on the other side of the barricaded doors. At that moment, Ashli ​​Babbit, who wore a Trump flag like a cloak, was shot on camera as insurgents scolded and her blood pooled on the white marble floor.

The California Air Force veteran had climbed through a broken window into the speaker’s lobby before being shot by a police officer.

Back in the chamber of the house, a woman was seen and heard on the balcony. Why she did this didn’t become clear until later when the video was circulated. She shouted a prayer.

Within about 10 minutes of the shooting, the lawmakers and staff of the House, who had huddled together during the onslaught with terror engraved on their faces, had been removed from the chamber and gallery to a safe room. The mob broke into Pelosi’s office while employees were hiding in one of the rooms in her suite.

“The staff went under the table, barricaded the door, turned off the light and remained silent in the dark,” she said. “Two and a half hours under the table.”

On the Senate side, the Capitol Police had circled the chamber and ordered all staff and reporters, as well as all senators in the vicinity, to enter and cordon off the chamber. At one point there were about 200 people inside; Between McConnell and the Democratic leader, Senator Chuck Schumer, stood an officer armed with what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon.

The authorities then ordered an evacuation and moved everyone to a safe place. The Senate employees emptied the boxes with the election collage certificates.

Although the Capitol attackers had been sent to battle with Trump’s admonition, in some cases they seemed surprised that they had actually made it.

When they broke through the abandoned Senate Chamber, they went around rummaging through papers, sat at desks, and took videos and photos. One of them climbed to the podium and shouted, “Trump won this election!” Two more were photographed with flex cuffs typically used for mass arrests.

But outside the Chamber, the mob’s hunt for legislators was still ongoing. “Where are they?” you could hear people screaming.

That question could have applied to reinforcements too – where were they?

Around 5:30 p.m., when the National Guard arrived to supplement the overwhelmed Capitol police force, the attackers began doing their best to get the attackers out.

Heavily armed officers called in as reinforcements used coordinated tear gas to move people to the door and then combed the halls for stragglers. As darkness fell, they pushed the mob further into the square and out onto the lawn, using officers in riot gear in full shields and clouds of tear gas, lightning strikes and grenades.

At 7:23 pm, officials announced that people who had settled in two nearby congressional office buildings could leave “if someone has to.”

Within an hour the Senate had resumed its work and the House followed suit, giving the People’s House back to the control of the elected representatives. Legislators confirmed Biden’s election victory early the next morning, shocked by the catastrophic security failure.

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