Four people are dead — including one woman who was shot — after supporters of President Donald Trump breached one of the most iconic American buildings.
The country’s giant online media platforms have taken action by suspending Trump’s social media presence for violating various rules.
The nation’s capital was engulfed in chaos after Trump urged his supporters to fight against the ceremonial counting of the electoral votes that will confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
On Wednesday hundreds of pro-Trump protesters pushed through barriers set up along the perimeter of the Capitol, where they tussled with officers in full riot gear, some calling the officers “traitors” for doing their jobs.
Police said demonstrators got into the building and the doors to the House and Senate were being locked.
US Vice President Mike Pence was also evacuated from the chamber, he was to perform his role in the counting of electoral votes.
An armed standoff took place at the House front door, and police officers had their guns drawn at someone who was trying to breach it. A Trump supporter was also pictured standing at the Senate dais earlier in the afternoon.
A woman, who is yet to be identified, died after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds, DC police confirmed to CNN.
More information on the shooting was not immediately available and a police spokesperson said additional details will come later.
DC Police Chief Robert Contee said three other people died from medical emergencies during the riot.
Multiple officers have been injured with at least one transported to the hospital, multiple sources tell CNN.
Smoke grenades were used on the Senate side of the Capitol, as police work to clear the building of rioters. Windows on the west side of the Senate have been broken, and hundreds of officers are amassing on the first floor of the building.
The Senate floor was cleared of rioters as of 3:30 p.m. ET, and an officer told CNN that they have successfully squeezed them away from the Senate wing of the building and towards the Rotunda, and they are removing them out of the East and West doors of the Capitol.
It’s not clear if any of the individuals have been taken into custody.
The US Capitol Police worked to secure the second floor of the Capitol first and were seen just before 5 p.m. pushing demonstrators off the steps on the east side of the building.
Social Media Platforms ban Trump
In a social media message to protesters, he said “I love you” before telling them to go home. He also repeated false claims about election fraud.
Twitter said it required the removal of three tweets for “severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy”.
The company said the president’s account would remain locked for good if the tweets were not removed.
Twitter initially didn’t take down the video, instead of removing the ability to retweet, like and comment on it and another tweet.
However, it later removed them and suspended the outgoing president.
Twitter said: “We have been significantly restricting engagement with Tweets labelled under our Civic Integrity Policy due to the risk of violence”.
It went on to say that “Future violations of the Twitter Rules… will result in permanent suspension of the @realDonaldTrump account”.
It means Donald Trump’s days on Twitter could be numbered. The president is not known for paying much attention to Twitter’s community guidelines.
Meanwhile, Facebook banned Mr Trump for 24 hours. YouTube also removed the video.
Facebook said: “We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
Facebook also said it is currently looking for and removing content that incited or supported the storming of Capitol Hill.
Facebook told the BBC: “The violent protests in the Capitol today are a disgrace. We prohibit incitement and calls for violence on our platform. We are actively reviewing and removing any content that breaks these rules.”
Before the violence, President Trump had told supporters on the National Mall in Washington that the election had been stolen.
Hours later, as the violence mounted inside and outside the US Capitol, he appeared on video and repeated the false claim.
He told protesters “I love you” and described the people who stormed the Capitol complex as “patriots”.
YouTube said it removed the video because it “violated policies on spreading election fraud”.
YouTube already had a policy to remove fake news about mass election fraud, which it applied to the president.
The march on Washington DC and on the Capital was partly organised online, including on Facebook groups and pages.
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