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Police confirm deaths in Capitol riots

Four people died as rioters invaded the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Washington police Chief Robert Contee said. One woman was shot by Capitol Police, and three others had medical emergencies amid the chaos. Media reports identified the slain woman as Ashli Babbitt, a supporter of President Donald Trump and an Air Force veteran from Southern California.

Lawmakers had convened Wednesday to certify the results of the Electoral College vote but had to evacuate the House and Senate as a mob of supporters of President Donald Trump overwhelmed Capitol Police and forced an hourslong lockdown. While legislators and staffers barricaded themselves in offices, the rioters took over the presiding officer’s chair in the Senate and roamed the halls pounding on doors. They posed mockingly for photos in the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. The National Guard deployed to reinforce police, and they drove out the protesters and secured the Capitol so congressional proceedings could resume.

What sparked the protests? In December, Trump called for his supporters to rally in Washington the day that Congress certified the Electoral College count. He spoke to participants outside the White House on Wednesday, saying, “We will never give up, we will never concede. … Our country has had enough. We will not take it anymore.” He said it was up to him and his supporters “to confront this egregious assault on our democracy.” He encouraged them to march to the Capitol without specifically telling them to break inside.

How did Trump respond? As the confrontation unfolded, lawmakers asked the president to tell the protesters to relent. “I know how you feel, but go home, and go home in peace,” Trump said in a video message posted to Twitter. He later tweeted, “These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long.” Twitter deleted both of those tweets and locked the president’s account for 12 hours, saying he violated the platform’s “civic integrity policy.”

Is the city safe now? Washington police said they arrested 15 people on charges related to the unrest and 30 more for violating a 6 p.m. curfew. They recovered two pipe bombs, one outside the Democratic National Committee and one outside the Republican National Committee. Police also found a cooler from a vehicle that had a long gun and Molotov cocktail on Capitol grounds.

Dig deeper: Read Harvest Prude’s report on the Electoral College tally and the president’s controversial phone call with Georgia’s secretary of state.

Editor’s note: WORLD has updated this report since its initial posting.

Associated Press/Photo by Jose Luis Magana
Associated Press/Photo by Carolyn Kaster
Associated Press/Photo by John Minchillo
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Police confirm deaths in Capitol riots