The U.S. Capitol locked down Wednesday with lawmakers inside as violent clashes broke out between supporters of President Donald Trump and police.
An announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s victory. Due to an “external security threat,” no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said.
Both chambers abruptly went into recess.
Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear. Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back. Some in the crowd were shouting “traitors” as officers tried to keep them back.
Lawmakers were evacuated after protesters breached security and entered the building.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators were led out, escorted by staff and police. Members of the House were also being evacuated.
Soon after, members of Congress still inside the House chamber were told by police to put on gas masks after tear gas was dispersed in the Capitol Rotunda amid clashes with supporters of President Donald Trump.
Law enforcement instructed lawmakers to retrieve masks from under their seats as Trump supporters marched through evacuated public spaces in the building.
Protesters could be seen marching through the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall shouting and waving Trump banners and American flags.
Some House lawmakers tweeted they were sheltering in place in their offices.
A suspicious package was also reported in the area, Capitol Police said.