The certification of the presidential election at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. on Wednesday came to a stunning halt when hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters, responding to his call to stop the vote, stormed the building.
What has played out since then has been one of the most troubling and astonishing moments most Americans have ever witnessed in this country in our lifetime.
The sudden lurch into violence came after Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell condemned the planned efforts of his fellow Republican senators to block the election certification, while Vice President Mike Pence had just issued a statement that he would not be attempting to subvert the results of the election this afternoon. Just as Sen. Ted Cruz, of Houston, had spoken, making it clear that he planned to proceed with his plan to hold up the certification process based on the thin excuse of unfounded accusations of election fraud, the building was breached.
Pence had to be taken to safety. Congress was forced to also move to safety as pro-Trump extremist supporters moved through the halls.
Houston officials have begun to express their thoughts on the matter.
Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo spoke out first, calling Cruz out for his part in this unsettling moment in our nation:
Amazing, you fanned the flames with your disingenuous rhetoric. Don’t forget your thoughts and prayers.— Chief Art Acevedo (@ArtAcevedo) January 6, 2021
Meanwhile, Cruz himself failed to acknowledge his part in what is currently playing out in D.C. while calling for those in the building to stop:
Those storming the Capitol need to stop NOW.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) January 6, 2021
The Constitution protects peaceful protest, but violence—from Left or Right— is ALWAYS wrong.
And those engaged in violence are hurting the cause they say they support.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is also still in the Capitol Building, and tweeted that she is going to stay there and is safe:
1/3 I am in the US Capitol. I am safe and will not fear or leave because of this unwarranted and shameless violence. These actions are not serving well at all our precious Democracy, America.— Sheila Jackson Lee (@JacksonLeeTX18) January 6, 2021
The same goes for U.S. Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher who was in the building:
Thank you to all who have expressed concern for my safety. I was in the Capitol, and I am now in a safe location, following guidance of the Capitol Police.— Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (@RepFletcher) January 6, 2021
And U.S. Rep. Sylvia Garcia:
I’m safe. Thank you for your concern and prayers.— Rep. Sylvia Garcia (@RepSylviaGarcia) January 6, 2021
Even hardline Republicans like Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen have spoken out against what's happening in Washington:
If you approve of, applaud, or encourage the grotesque demonstrations of hate and destruction being inflicted upon the Capitol of the United States America, you don’t deserve to carry the flag and call yourself a patriot. It is a sad day in our history.— Speaker Dennis Bonnen (@RepDennisBonnen) January 6, 2021
Mayor Sylvester Turner said that Texans should hold Cruz responsible for his part in these unprecedented actions:
DC: where is the law and order with these protesters? And what about the US Constitution? It doesn’t mean anything to these protesters? And Texans should whole Sen. Ted Cruz accountable for this fiasco. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) January 6, 2021
U.S. Rep. Al Green urged Trump to intervene with his supporters:
.@realDonaldTrump call on YOUR supporters to stop this madness that YOU incited! The Constitution intended a peaceful transfer of power. This is seditious. Only a dictator or would-be dictator would encourage this. Which are you?— Congressman Al Green (@RepAlGreen) January 6, 2021
And here in Houston, Bun B made a telling point:
Meanwhile in Trump’s America....black people did this at Target and Republicans called them thugs. This is the US Capitol. What do you call these people? @ United States Capitol https://t.co/NB8PnOXxRW— Bun B (@BunBTrillOG) January 6, 2021
One that Turner echoed:
What happened and is happening in DC is inexcusable, unacceptable and unAmerican. And how these protesters have been handled leave me speechless. st— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) January 6, 2021
While Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo also weighed in:
The travesty at the Capitol today was despicable violence against officials trying to do their duty. This is homegrown terrorism.— Lina Hidalgo (@LinaHidalgoTX) January 6, 2021
And Kam Franklin decried what's happening:
Stop calling these terrorists protestors. Just wow.— Kam Franklin (@KamFranklin) January 6, 2021
As did Simone Biles:
embarrassed but not surprised— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) January 7, 2021
disgusted but not surprised
sad but not surprised
angry but not surprised
speechless but not surprised
So far, one person has been shot in the chest as this violence continues to play out, while the National Guard, which the Department of Defense declined to send out for D.C. officials, has now been called out by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump has said very little so far, just urging his followers to "stay peaceful."