Members of the Southland congressional delegation found themselves barricaded in their offices and other locations Wednesday as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol as Congress prepared to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election.
“I am in a secure location,” Rep Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, wrote on her Twitter page as the Capitol fell under lockdown, halting congressional proceedings. “The president of the United States is inciting a coup. We will not be intimidated. We will not be deterred.”
Patrick Boland, spokesman for Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, declined to comment beyond saying, “Congressman Schiff is safe.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Los Angeles, tweeted, “We are safe, and are grateful for the outpouring of concern.”
In response to the attack on the Capitol, Lieu called on Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment, a process that would remove Trump from office. Lieu said Trump “is detached from reality.”
“This assault on our nation’s Capitol is a coup attempt and all those involved should be prosecuted as such,” he said.
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-San Pedro, spoke to KNX Newsradio from her Capitol Hill office, where she was locked inside.
“We have been told on the loudspeaker that connects all the offices to lock our doors, to lock the windows, stay away from the windows, to shelter in place,” she said. “We don’t have a window from our office into the hallway so it’s hard to see when we hear somebody walking whether they’re protesters that have made their way into the House office buildings or not. It’s very scary. We’ve ne4ver seen anything like this before.”
The unrest began shortly after Trump spoke to hundreds of supporters who gathered in Washington, D.C., on the day Congress was set to certify the Nov. 3 election results and proclaim Democrat Joe Biden as the victor.
Trump has vociferously insisted that voter fraud led to his defeat in the election, though his multiple legal challenges in various states have been rejected due to lack of evidence. Officials in states across the country, including the Republican election officials in the battleground state of Georgia, have flatly denied any impropriety in the election.
As Trump supporters marched through the streets of Washington, D.C., the group made its way to the Capitol complex, clashing with Capitol Police and ultimately breaching the building, entering the seat of Democracy without any security screening. The Senate and House chambers were cleared as police tried to restore order.
Trump took to Twitter in response to the insurrection, writing, “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful,” Trump wrote. “No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”
He later posted a video message urging people to leave the Capitol building, but continued to press his unfounded claims of election fraud and that the election was stolen from him.
“You have to go home now,” he said. “We have to have peace. We have to have law and order. We have to respect our great people in law and order. We don’t want anybody hurt. … There’s never been a time like this where such a thing happened where they could take it away from all of us, from you and our country. This was a fraudulent election, but we can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special. … Go home and go home in peace.”
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Los Angeles, called it “a tragic day in American history as we see Trump-supporting domestic terrorists surround and breach the Capitol building. My staff and I are secured and safe thanks to the courageous actions of the Capitol Police. Praying for the safety of everybody and the very soul of our nation.”
Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, was speaking to KNX when he watched tear gas being deployed in the Capitol Rotunda.
“The idea that the Capitol Police would lose control over the entry points, these are entry points that are sometimes guarded with machine guns. They take that very seriously. A decision was made to allow the breach rather than use weapons. I hope that decision turns out to be right. I think it will be.”
Rep. Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles, described the scene on his Twitter account.
“Got stuck in the gallery, which is above the House Floor, for some time because people were trying to get in,” he wrote. “Had to lay on the floor with about 30-50 of my colleagues. With gas mask in hand. But I’m safe.”
Rep. Mike Levin, D-Dana Point, said, “I am safe, sheltering in my office. Thanks to our Capitol Police for trying to get this situation under control as soon as possible. This is not who we are as Americans. We can disagree about politics without resorting to violence.”
Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, wrote on Twitter, “I am safely sheltering in place, and am grateful to the Capitol Police for their service. Violence will not prevent a transfer of power, and cannot destroy our constitutional process.”
Back in California, dozens of Trump supporters rallied in downtown Los Angeles outside City Hall. Holding flags and carrying signs reading “Stop the Steal,” members of the group stood along Spring Street while others circled the area in their vehicles.
Organizers of the event said 15 “patriotic organizations” were taking part in the demonstration “to demand the integrity and justice of the Nov. 3 election.”
The gathering proceeded peacefully for most of the morning, but skirmishes began erupting around midday as counter-protesters gathered nearby. Los Angeles police, who earlier reported that the protest was being held peacefully, began showing up in large numbers. Police declared an unlawful assembly, ordering the crowd to disperse. Although video from the scene showed at least two people were seen in handcuffs, police said no one had been arrested as of early afternoon.
The anti-Trump group Refuse Fascism held a protest of its own in downtown Los Angeles Wednesday afternoon, unfurling a banner over the Harbor (110) Freeway at Seventh Street, proclaiming, “Trump Lost! Fascists Get Out!”