Chaos ensnared Connecticut’s Congressional delegation Wednesday as a host of agitators supporting President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol Building in an attempt to disrupt the presidential transfer of power.
On Wednesday afternoon the National Guard mobilized more than a thousand members in an effort to quell violence at the nation’s Capitol, according to the Associated Press. The mob broke through a police line and later broke into legislative chambers. As of 6 p.m. the U.S. Capitol had been secured, according to officials.
U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, who was in the building during the incident, was tweeting from as the situation unfolded.
“Police have asked us to get gas masks out as there has been tear gas used in the rotunda,” Himes tweeted.
“Police have just told us to be prepared to get under our chairs in the chamber. They’ve placed guards in the galleries. Lieutenant advising us to be prepared to get behind our seats. There is no behind our seats,” he wrote later.
In a statement released by his office, Himes said: “Today’s seditious riot, attempting to overturn the rightful election of Joe Biden, is the inevitable and tragic result of months and years of lies and incitement by Donald Trump and his craven enablers. There is blood on their hands. This is domestic terrorism, and the traitors who brought this violence to the hallowed halls of democracy are the shame of the nation and must be brought to justice.”
U.S. Rep. John Larson was in his office in the Longworth House Office Building across the street when the mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. In a phone interview Wednesday, Larson said he was drawn to the window where he had a bird’s eye view of the crowd rushing the building. His staff urged him to avoid the windows.
“They were telling me to get away from the window. I’m consumed by the history of it all and the spectacle, I was taking it all in. No, I did not feel threatened but I felt hurt that my nation, my country—the greatest democracy in the history of the world and a narcissistic megalomaniac on Pennsylvania Avenue turns us into a banana republic? My heart broke for the country,” Larson said.
Larson said he saw EMS personnel remove a couple of people from the building on stretchers. He said he assumed one of them was a woman who was shot in an incident caught on video and circulating Wednesday on social media. According to NBC News, one person was shot while five others were taken to the hospital.
While on the phone, Larson said he could see law enforcement personnel on the rooftops watching the crowds.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal reported through his staff that he had been evacuated from the Capitol Building. He later issued a statement saying that he and his staff were safe in a secure location.
“I am absolutely sickened by scenes of anarchist mobs violently swarming the Capitol. It’s not a protest – it’s armed insurrection. This is an assault on the heart of our democracy incited and fueled by the President of the United States and his enablers,” Blumenthal said.
In a tweet, U.S. Rep. Jahana Hayes called the scene “disgraceful.”
“This is unreal. The scene outside the Capital as the electoral college votes are being certified. Bldg evacuations Suspicious packages Streets blocked This is not partisan~ it is disgraceful,” she wrote.
The chaos prompted statements from officials across Connecticut. Gov. Ned Lamont posted a video in which he addressed the president.
“Mr. President, words have consequences, and your angry words have dangerous consequences. We’re looking at the TV right now. Demand that your agitators stand down and respect the peaceful transfer of power,” Lamont said.
In an eight-minute, President-elect Joe Biden said the chaos at the Capitol “borders on sedition.” He called on Trump to demand his supporters quit their “siege.”
“The words of a president matter no matter how good or bad that president is. At their best the words of a president can inspire. At their worst they can incite,” Biden said.
Trump eventually posted a video of his own. In the video, the president addressed his supporters occupying the Capitol. In the statement, Trump told his supporters to go home in one breath and fanned their outrage in another.
“We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. You’ve seen what happens. You see the way others are treated that are so bad and so evil. I know how you feel,” Trump said.
In a statement, Minority Leader Vincent Candelora, R-North Branford, pointed out that what was happening in Washington was in stark contrast to what happened in Hartford Wednesday.
“Protestors here made themselves heard, peacefully, and left the grounds without incident. The siege that unfolded in Washington D.C. this afternoon is unacceptable in any circumstance, as were all of the violent protests we have seen over the past six months, no matter how angry or frustrated people may be,” Candelora said.
The Connecticut Republican Party tweeted a statement condemning the violence in Washington.
“What we see unfolding today in Washington D.C. is putting a black eye on our party and our Republic. The violence needs to stop and we need to all come together as Americans,” the statement read.
Responding to the Tweet, Himes said “As I take off my gas mask and brush the glass shards from my knees” he considered the GOP response too little too late. Himes said the House would soon be returning to its business of certifying the election results.
In a note of optimism, Larson said the historic events of the day were not all bad. He praised Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, for his floor speech before the Senate chamber was evacuated Wednesday. In the speech, McConnell scolded members of his party who refused to accept the results of the election. Larson called it a “profile in courage.”
“As a former history teacher and civics teacher, I would have Mitch McConnell’s floor speech about the transition of power, that speech should go down in the history books. It should be taught. What is the right thing to do? McConnell did it,” Larson said.