Virginia State Troopers, National Guard sent to DC, as Virginia’s congressional delegation shelters in place.
Update: As of 5:52 p.m., the House and Senate buildings are secured and cleared. Members of Congress plan to return and finish the vote count tonight.
WASHINGTON DC- Parts of Virginia are under curfew tonight after the domestic terrorist attack on Capitol Hill. The cities of Alexandria and Arlington went into a curfew at 6 p.m. Wednesday, a state that will remain until 6 a.m. Thursday morning. Gov. Ralph Northam said he made the decision after requests from the mayors of both cities.
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said it was necessary to protect residents.
“Let’s keep our community safe in the face of the terror we have seen across the river today,” Wilson wrote in a statement.
During the curfew, it’s illegal for anyone to be present on any street, park or other public place unless they fit one of the exceptions. Violations will be punished with fines up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail. Exceptions include leaving or traveling to home, work or places of worship. Anyone seeking emergency services also will be allowed out, along with members of the media.
Delegation Shelters in Place
Most of Virginia’s congressional delegation took to Twitter during the incident, condemning the attack while reassuring people that they were safe.
“I’m sheltering in place as protesters storm the Capitol in a violent & fanatical attempt to interrupt Congress,” Rep. Jennifer Wexton tweeted. “We’re witnessing the consequences of the radical disinformation campaign created by the President, his allies & some of my colleagues.”
Wexton referred to a group of right-wing extremists that stormed the US Capitol Wednesday, injuring police and taking control of the Senate building. The attack came as Republicans in Congress, including some in the Virginia delegation, attempted to block certification of the electoral college count from the 2020 presidential election.
Officials evacuated both the House and Senate, leaving it open for Trump supporters to walk right in. Streaming video from the chambers showed some looking through papers and sitting at desks. Others yelled “where is Pence?” as they walked around.
Virginia senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine also took to social media, saying they were safe and calling for the violence to end.
“My staff and I are safe right now- following the instructions of Capitol Police and praying for the safety of Capitol workers, members of the press and all here in Washington today,” Sen. Tim Kaine tweeted. “This violence must end now.”
DC, VA Guard Brought In
Mirroring the decisions made across the river, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser set a 6 p.m. curfew across the District. She also reached out to governors in Maryland and Virginia for assistance. Both responded by sending troops. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam sent the Virginia National Guard and 200 Virginia State Troopers.
Soon after, the DC National Guard was called out. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman released a statement saying the Guard had been mobilized to support federal law enforcement in the district.
“Acting Secretary Miller has been in contact with Congressional leadership [and] Secretary McCarthy has been working with DC government,” Hoffman wrote.
President-elect Biden, two weeks away from being inaugurated, called on President Trump to step up and end the situation.
“I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution and demand an end to this siege,” Biden said.
Instead, Trump released a taped statement. He said even though they were “very special people” and he supported their cause, they should “go home in peace.”
A Call to March in DC
Wednesday’s siege comes after months of verbal attacks from President Donald Trump, Republican members of the Virginia congressional delegation and others. On Wednesday, speaking at a morning rally in D.C., Trump again claimed the election was stolen from him. He told his supporters gathered there they should march to the Capitol. They did exactly that.
State senator and Republican candidate for governor Amanda Chase was at the rally. She livestreamed the scene before the rally and then recorded a message while leaving. Chase said she didn’t have anything to do with the violence but was disappointed in Vice President Pence.
“I know there’s a lot of unhappy people, including myself, very disappointed that Vice President Mike Pence went in a different direction with the electors,” Chase said in her recorded message.
She was echoing Trump’s demand earlier in the day that Pence should overturn the election results. Pence mainly has a ceremonial role in the vote counting. He opens the sealed envelopes from the states and reads the results. But in recent weeks, Trump started claiming Pence could throw out electoral votes.
The vice president acknowledged he didn’t have the legal authority to do that. In a statement before Wednesday’s session of Congress started, Pence said he could not claim “unilateral authority” to reject the electoral votes that make Biden president.
Other Republicans Reject Siege
Chase’s opponent in the upcoming Republican primary, former Virginia Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, put out a statement strongly condemning the day’s events.
“These events are in no way justified or excusable,” Cox said. “We are a nation of laws and those who have sworn to uphold the Constitution need to do so. Anyone who rightly spoke out against lawlessness and violence last summer cannot with integrity be silent now. We all have a duty to speak up.”
The reality, Cox said, is that Joe Biden will become the next President of the United States.
“The lawless actions taken today are an affront to that process and, therefore, an affront to the republic,” Cox said.
Aside from Chase, no other Republican lawmaker in Virginia tried to justify or explain why Wednesday’s incidents happened. The Virginia Republican Party put out a statement, with Chairman Rich Anderson saying those people don’t speak for the state party.
“As chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, I condemn in the strongest possible terms those who have today employed violence, breached the security of our nation’s Capitol and defied our law enforcement heroes and others in positions of authority,” Anderson said. “They neither represent nor speak for the Republican Party of Virginia, our fellow citizens or any civilized people. They do not reflect our views, our values or the Republican Creed.”
Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].