On Wednesday, a large crowd gathered at the Capitol in Washington D.C., to protest the certification of the Electoral College votes for Joe Biden from the Nov. 3 presidential election.
At approximately 1 p.m., as Congress met inside the Capitol Building to discuss and certify the votes, a number of protesters overwhelmed federal security and pushed their way onto the Capitol steps, ultimately breaking into the building.
According to the Associated Press, five people, including a female retired Air Force veteran and a Capitol police officer, have died as a result of the chaos.
After evacuating the building, members of Congress reconvened Wednesday night to finish certifying the vote, officially confirming Joe Biden as the president-elect.
Shortly after the riot broke out, several Alabama leaders and members of Congress took to social media and other outlets to express their condemnation of the violence.
“It’s very unfortunate that kind of thing would happen,” State Rep. Kerry Rich (R-Albertville) told The Reporter. “Most people up there were there to protest peacefully... It’s a shame you have idiots that want to go in and take over the Capitol and destroy property.”
Rich said he understands voters’ frustrations over the lack of transparency in the presidential election, but he does not condone the violence and thinks protesters went “too far.”
“We need to calm down and use legal means to protest,” Rich said. “It’s senseless to go to violence.”
State Senator Clay Scofield (R-Red Hill) said he found the actions of the rioters “disgusting” and “un-American.”
“What happened in our Capitol [Wednesday] was disgusting,” Scofield told The Reporter. “That type of activity doesn’t happen in the United States.”
Scofield said what happened really bothered him and should bother every American.
“We can’t be critical of riots in Portland... or Seattle and not be critical of what happened in D.C.,” he said. “You don’t think Russia and China were watching smiling ear-to-ear?”
Scofield said he hopes the perpetrators of the violence are investigated and brought to justice and that America will try to focus on uniting.
“We got to turn back to God [and] pray for this country,” he said. “We’re not in a good place.
We need to focus on what unites us—that’s being American.”
State Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a strong condemnation of the riot Wednesday, saying:
“I condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the actions of those who today [Wednesday] attempted to storm the Capitol, a place where passionate but peaceful protesters had gathered, and lawmakers debated inside. Our country is built upon the foundation of the rule of law. American democracy guarantees the right of peaceful protest.
“Those who chose to engage in violence and anarchy should and will be held accountable under the law.
“I stand by the brave men and women of law enforcement as they work to restore order. God bless the Capitol Police and all members of law enforcement who, as always, have showed such great courage in protecting their fellow man.”
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill also released a statement saying: “Although protesters have the constitutional right to have their voice heard, they do not have the right to be disruptive during the certification process that was put in place by our Founding Fathers in 1789 and has since survived the history of our Republic.
“We are fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world – a nation that allows for a difference of opinion. With this freedom comes the responsibility to follow the systematic process to have your opinion voiced, heard, and understood, without disrespecting others or putting lives at risk.
“We are a nation of laws. These laws must be strictly followed and enforced. It is time for America to support the law enforcement officers who serve to protect our personal freedoms – including that to protest.
“There is an appropriate time and method to express one’s displeasure with the outcome of an election, whether that is through voting in the next election or through introducing information during the legislative process. The answer, however, is never physical violence.”
While the Capitol building was still being cleared of rioters, President Trump issued statements via Twitter telling them to be peaceful and “go home” while also furthering his assertions of election fraud. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms quickly banned Trump's accounts for the comments, which their moderators alleged may further exacerbate the violence. Many politicians from both sides of the aisle have suggested removing Trump from office immediately for his comments and handling of the situation, either by impeachment or the 25th Amendment.
Trump later issued a strong condemnation of the violence at the Capitol and committed to a “peaceful transition” of power for the incoming Biden administration.
“Serving as your president has been the honor of my lifetime,” Trump said in a video statement posted to Twitter after the ban on his account was lifted Thursday. “And to all of my wonderful supporters, I know you are disappointed, but I want you to also know that our incredible journey is only just beginning.”