On January 6th, 2021, a joint session of Congress was to take place. This session was routine, in order to confirm the results of the 2020 presidential election. What was different about this year was the objection to election results. Before and after the election, many supporters of Donald Trump claimed the results were fraudulent, though there is no substantial evidence of this occurrence. Insurrectionists overran police surrounding the capitol building, and entered by breaking and entering through windows, then opening the doors for others. While representatives were called in recess and ushered into safety, insurrectionists entered the Senate Chamber and representative’s offices, destroying property along the way. They went on to attempt to break into rooms where representatives were sheltering. Later that evening, Congressional sessions resumed, and while there was debate over the electoral results, in the end President Biden was confirmed the winner of the 2020 presidential Election. Overall, there was more than $1.5 million worth of damage done to the Capitol. Approximately 140 police officers were assaulted. Hundreds of people also rallied at the state capitals of Michigan, Idaho, Alabama, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio, Texas, Arizona as well as other large cities throughout the country.
In the month following the attack, a House select committee was formed to investigate the events of January 6th. This committee is made up of both Democrats and Republicans, although the majority of Republicans prevented a larger, 9/11 style commission to investigate. The committee has worked to uncover the actions of then President Donald Trump, through documents and other witnesses. The panel has held a single public hearing where they heard testimony from Capitol police officers. As of now the committee is planning on releasing a midterm report this summer.
The Justice Department states that more than 725 people have been arrested in all 50 states for charges including assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers, assaulting members of the media or destroying their equipment, entering or remaining in restricted areas and with deadly or dangerous weapons, destruction or theft of government property, corruptly obstructing, influencing, or impeding an official proceeding, conspiracy, and more.
The Capitol Police has dramatically increased their security, intelligence, and communications since this attack, however they still face many setbacks. One being the over 80 officers injured and over 130 officers quitting. The challenge of their job is also growing, with over 9,600 threats made to lawmakers in 2021, double what it was 5 years ago. The Capitol Police do now have the ability to call in the National Guard if needed, through a bipartisan bill passed in order to strengthen the force in case of another attack.
Taking a step back from Washington D.C., we can begin to see how the January 6th insurrection affected everyday Americans. A poll from NPR shows that 64% of Americans believe that U.S. democracy is “At risk of falling.” This is an idea held by both Democrats and Republicans. Democrats fear harsh laws making access to voting more difficult, however these fears are less known and are shown to be less relevant to the larger electorate. 60% of Republican responses in this same poll agree with the false claim that “Voter fraud helped Joe Biden win the 2020 election.” The poll also showed that fewer than half of Republicans accept the results of the 2020 election, stagnant from last January.
It goes without saying that the events of January 6th, 2021 will be remembered as historic. Those involved including Capitol police officers, lawmakers, and other staffers continue to suffer with post traumatic stress. Representative Peter Meijer (R-MI) says, “The place I felt least safe on Jan. 6 was inside that chamber. And it wasn’t because there weren’t metal detectors on the outside.” These events will live on in all of the lives they harmed, and all of those affected.