Michigan’s elected leaders continue to shelter in an undisclosed location in the Capitol complex during the unfolding crisis in Washington.
WASHINGTON, DC—As the House and Senate were in session Wednesday afternoon for the confirmation of the electoral victory of President-elect Joe Biden, supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the United States Capitol, forcing Congressional leaders to halt the vote and evacuate the building.
The National Guard is responding to the attempted coup.
Security measures at the Capitol failed because law enforcement was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of protesters. This represents a stark contrast to the police presence typically responding to Black Lives Matter protests.
Photographers captured images of Trump supporters sitting in the chair reserved for the president of the Senate, inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, and with guns drawn on the House floor. Reports on the ground indicate at least one person was evacuated with a gunshot wound.
NPR also reports that multiple suspicious devices were found by law enforcement and are being investigated by the FBI.
“Like most of my colleagues, I’m sheltering in place,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) on NPR from her undisclosed location during the crisis. “I’m literally looking at pictures of my colleagues where they’re down on their stomachs in the House gallery.”
She said she had been talking to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as Slotkin is formerly a member of the intelligence community. Slotkin said she is working with officials to clear the building.
“Do we want to continue this thing called democracy … or let it go down because we didn’t understand how fragile it was?” Slotkin asked. “The first order of business is to clear the Capitol complex, which is not safe. But then we have to have that existential conversation.”
She also said the confirmation of the Electoral College vote will likely not be completed today due to the time it will take to clear the building. But she said it is important to get that vote confirmed as soon as possible.
“If we can do it tomorrow, we should do it tomorrow,” she said. “Democracy has to keep going.”
The attempted coup is the result of President Donald Trump calling for his supporters to protest the election results at the Capitol despite lacking any evidence to support his claims of fraud. Trump has refused to accept his electoral defeat in the 2020 election, and his rhetoric directly contributed to today’s violence, argued Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.
“This is happening because of lies,” Benson tweeted. “Because of a choice leaders made to spread and repeat lies about our democracy. They spread and repeated those lies in court, to the media, in the halls of our state legislatures. That is why this is happening.”
Of course, Michigan has seen similar incidents in the recent past, with armed gunmen attacking the Capitol Building in Lansing. Unlike the US Capitol, Michigan permits guns to be openly carried. Discussions in May about prohibiting guns devolved when the Capitol Commission’s meeting on the subject was interrupted with threats of violence.
“Is now a good time to renew discussions about banning guns at the Michigan Capitol?” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel asked Wednesday.
Taking questions following his remarks on the crisis, President-elect Joe Biden said he is not worried about the security of his inauguration or personal safety, saying the attack did not reflect true America.
As of this reporting, the crisis is ongoing. Follow The ‘Gander and our sister publication COURIER for continuing coverage as the situation develops.