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Guns out, windows smashed: Trump crowd turns Congress into battlefield

Guns out, windows smashed: Trump crowd turns Congress into battlefield

Supporters of US President Donald Trump react to tear gas during a clash with police officers in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington on Jan 6, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Leah Millis)

WASHINGTON: Tense officers pointing guns, lawmakers with gas masks, camouflaged protesters smashing windows - this was the day that President Donald Trump's bid to overturn the US election went "wild".

Inside the great domed US Capitol building, initially out of view of the cameras, images emerged of a scene that resembled something from a coup d'etat.

Trump supporters, waving his blue flags and wearing his red campaign hats, stormed through the building, making it right into the debating chamber.

A viral photo on Twitter showed plainclothes security men aiming pistols point blank through the smashed window of a door to stop anyone else getting in.

US Capitol Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the US Capitol on Jan 6, 2021, in Washington. (Photo: AP/J Scott Applewhite)

Legislators were given gas masks to protect themselves against tear gas as they rushed to safety.

For those fleeing, it was a race against time: Protesters were getting in as quickly as members of Congress could get out. Some protesters even occupied the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, sitting mockingly at a desk.

"I've not seen anything like this since I deployed to Iraq," Mike Gallagher, a Republican lawmaker and military veteran, told CNN.

A US Capitol police officer shoots pepper spray at a protestor attempting to enter the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results on Capitol Hill in Washington on Jan 6, 2021. (Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS) A U.S. Capitol police officer shoots pepper spray at a protestor attempting to enter the Capitol building during a joint session of Congress to certify the 2020 election results on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 6, 2021. Kevin Dietsch/Pool via REUTERS

Trump had said all along he wanted to stop Congress from officially certifying Democrat Joe Biden's election victory on Wednesday.

There was no way he could do it legally.

Trump tried. He threatened his vice president, Mike Pence, who was meant to preside over the ceremony.

But Pence retorted that he had no constitutional leeway: The rules were clear.

So Trump's supporters intervened, at least temporarily derailing the proceedings - literally bringing democracy to a halt.

Supporters of President Donald Trump set off a fire extinguisher after breaching security defences, as police move in on the demonstrate on the second floor of the US Capitol near the entrance to the Senate, in Washington on Jan 6, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

The mobs went on their mission after a final pep talk from their leader.

Trump addressed them for more than an hour on the National Mall, delivering a torrent of false claims and conspiracy theories about why he should remain president despite losing the November election.

Then he encouraged them to march on Congress.

Within minutes the mob was pouring up the Capitol steps. Violent small groups then fought with police, pushing ever further and eventually getting inside.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump gather in front of the US Capitol Building in Washington on Jan 6, 2021. (Photo: REUTERS/Stephanie Keith) Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump gather in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, U.S. January 6, 2021. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Television footage showed men, some in military gear, smashing a window and climbing through. Other groups clambered up on the roofs of black official vehicles parked outside Congress, abandoned by their drivers.

Trump had promised his supporters that Wednesday would be a "wild" day for the nation's capital.

Source: AFP/ec

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