On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, pro-Trump extremists, including a broad coalition of right-wing extremists, descended on Washington, D.C. and a number of state capitals. Ostensibly gathered to hear President Trump and his family speak, and to dispute the result of the 2020 presidential election, which is scheduled to be certified in Congress on Wednesday, protesters stoked violence against law enforcement officers before storming the U.S. Capitol in an extraordinary display of political violence.
Wednesday afternoon, the Capitol was under siege by protesters who had taken over the building, photographing themselves in the House chamber and trapping members of Congress and staffers. The President’s tweets and those of many of his supporters incited this violence, which included the death of a pro-Trump extremist, who was shot inside the Capitol.
As the chaos unfolded, President Trump tweeted his support for the rioters: “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. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!” The tweet was later deleted by Twitter, and the president’s account was put on a temporary suspension.
Earlier in the day, Metropolitan Police discovered and successfully detonated two homemade bombs, which were placed near the buildings housing the offices of the Democratic and Republican National Committees.
Following weeks of increasingly incendiary online commentary, the far right, violence-prone Proud Boys were in D.C. en masse Tuesday night and Wednesday, shouting obscenities directed at antifa, Black Lives Matter and the police. Multiple fights involving members have been captured on video. On Wednesday afternoon, Proud Boys’ “Uncensored” Telegram channel showed members breaching security at the U.S. Capitol and engaging in fistfights with Capitol Police.
The same Proud Boys Telegram channel published this comment Wednesday night: “For several hours, our collective strength had politicians in Washington in absolute terror. The treacherous pawns (cops) were also terrified. The system would have you believe that you are alone. That’s why they want to ban all ‘radicals’ from social media. They want you to feel alone. But the truth is that you are not alone. We are everywhere. Things will get difficult soon but don’t lose heart. We are growing and our unity will terrify the evil elites running this nation.”
Wednesday morning in D.C., anti-government extremist Oath Keepers, including founder Stewart Rhodes, were photographed in the crowd. White supremacist and Groyper Army leader Nick Fuentes joined fellow "America First" adherents Greyson Arnold and Jaden McNeil, with some chanting of "Christ is King!" Nearby, members of the white supremacist New Jersey European Heritage Association waved their group’s flag.
Additional extremists on the ground in D.C. included Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes as well as Proud Boys Ethan “Rufio Panman” Nordean and Nick Ochs. Reporters spotted white supremacists Vincent James Foxx and Tim Gionet (aka “Baked Alaska”), two correspondents from the antisemitic TruNews and Jake Angeli, otherwise known as QAnon cult figure “Q Shaman.”
Prior to the attack on the Capitol, Gab founder James Torba appeared to urge followers to “storm” the building, writing, "Would be a real shame if the people outside stormed the Senate."
Simultaneous pro-Trump events took place nationwide Wednesday, including “Wild Protests” or “Stop The Steal” rallies in Sacramento and Los Angeles, California, where Three Percenters were in the crowd, as well as Phoenix, Arizona, Lincoln, Nebraska, Salem, Oregon and Austin, Texas. At a “Stop the Steal” rally in Lansing, Michigan, a group erected a massive cross on the grounds of the state capitol. Brien James, of Proud Boys and American Guard, attended a rally in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Tuesday also saw considerable extremist activity in D.C., including a member of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Club (New England), as well as right-wing extremist Tim Gionet/Baked Alaska leading a series of anti-police chants, and Owen Shroyer (of Alex Jones’ Infowars) burning a Black Lives Matter Flag “in honor” of Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio, whom Shroyer called “a political prisoner.” Tarrio was arrested Monday on charges connected to the burning of a Black Lives Matter banner at a Black church. He has been released but is banned from D.C.