Trump Supporters protesting in Washington D.C. near the Capitol Building during the Save America Rally 2021.

January 6th, 2021, Storming of the United States Capitol

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Updated Jan 09, 2023 at 03:01PM EST by Zach.

Added Jan 06, 2021 at 02:49PM EST by Zach.

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Overview

January 6th, 2021, Storming of the United States Capitol, also known as the 2021 "Save America" Rally D.C. Protest or the January 6th Insurrection, refers to the riots and demonstrations that occurred around Washington D.C. on early January 6th, 2021, due to supporters of Donald Trump alleging that there was widespread voter fraud or sabotage during the 2020 presidential election in order to help Joe Biden win. Although evidence disproved many of these claims, supporters asserted that Trump was robbed of the election due to vote-counting fraud they believe took place in several swing states.

A decentralized network of groups, including the Stop the Steal movement, began hosting rallies in D.C. on January 5th ahead of the Electoral College certification, which erupted into violent clashes with police near the Capitol Building the following day that caused a lockdown in the senate and an evacuation of Vice President Mike Pence. Five people died during the event, including a woman named Ashli Babbitt who was fatally shot by police while trying to climb through a window inside the Capitol Building and a police officer who died from injuries during the clashes.

Background

On January 5th, 2021, supporters of President Trump, organized by the Stop the Steal movement and other groups, began holding rallies and demonstrations in Washington D.C. a day before the Electoral College certification took place in Congress, which would certify that Joe Biden won the presidential election. Demonstrators asserted that the election was stolen as speakers in the crowd repeated election conspiracy theories throughout the night, which were initially mostly peaceful into Wednesday morning with few arrests made.[1]



On January 6th, demonstrations continued leading up to Trump’s “Save America” rally on Wednesday morning with tens of thousands in attendance to hear the president’s speech. Around noon, Trump took the stage and spoke to the crowd where he continued making claims about winning the election.



Shortly after his speech ended, the supporters shifted toward the Capitol Building and began marching on Congress where numerous violent clashes between police and protestors broke out as they moved beyond police barriers and into the Capitol. Several arrests were also made over the course of the day leading up to escalating violence.[2]



Developments

Protesters Storm Capitol Building

Around 1 p.m., coverage on social media of the supporters storming the grounds of the Capitol as they tore through fences and barricades began sweeping the web. One such video was tweeted by Twitter[4] user Julio Rosas, which received half a million views, 4,500 likes and 3,000 retweets in three hours (seen below).



Another video from Twitter[5] user KBoomhauer posted around 1:14 p.m. showed the clashes turning violent between Capitol police and protesters, which received over 527,000 views, 923 likes and 910 retweets in three hours (shown below).



After pushing past police outside the Capitol steps, senators inside were still debating the certification of the presidential election until several protesters breached security and entered the building by breaking down windows and doors.[3] The Senate then halted proceedings after an announcement from police that protesters were in the building and a lockdown began as Congress was evacuated and given gas masks.[6]



Several images denoting various protesters wearing Pepe the Frog garb or flying Kekistan flags were captured by users on social media, including one from Twitter[13] user willsommer that received over 500 likes in seven hours (seen below, left). Another from Twitter[14] user kevinroose captured a photo of a protester wearing a mask and flag outside the Capitol (seen below, right).


Will Sommer @willsommer Replying to @willsommer This Trump supporter's kit includes Pepe the Frog goggles Kevin Roose @kevinroose Hard to overstate how online this mob is. Here's a guy outside the Capitol in a Pepe mask and a Kekistan flag.

Another viral video showing a livestream of police taking selfies with protesters was also widely shared online that day. Twitter[15] user bubbaprog reposted it, receiving over 10.8 million views and 156,000 likes in two hours (shown below).



Senate Shooting and Deaths

As a group of protesters attempted to break through a door of the Capitol, reports emerged of shots fired in the building resulting in one woman being shot in the neck by police.[8] Twitter[7] user TaylerUSA tweeted footage of the shooting shortly after, which was viewed over 2.1 million times in one hour (seen below).




Later in the day, it was confirmed by several media outlets that the woman was killed in the shooting.[17] D.C. police later identified three people who died during the event, including a 34-year-old from Georgia, a 50-year-old from Pennsylvania and a 55-year-old from Alabama, bringing the total to four dead and more than 50 injured.[18] Shortly after the additional reported deaths, it was then confirmed that a Capitol Police officer also died after being injured in clashes the day before. Officer Brian D. Sicknick was reportedly injured while engaging with protesters before collapsing and dying later in the night at the hospital.[23]

Trump's Statement and Response

After continued violence between protesters and police, Trump tweeted[12] a video of his response where he told protesters to go home while also continuing his rhetoric that he won the election. The video received over 10.5 million views in an hour, as well as a disclaimer that his statements of election fraud were disputed (shown below).



Trump Suspended On Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Media

In the evening on January 6th, following the curfew in D.C. at 6 p.m. and dispersal of the protesters, Twitter[19] announced that it was suspending Trump's Twitter account for 12 hours in an announcement on its Twitter Safety account, receiving nearly a quarter of a million likes and 90,000 retweets in 22 hours (seen below).


Twitter Safety O @TwitterSafety · Jan 6, 2021 As a result of the unprecedented and ongoing violent situation in Washington, D.C., we have required the removal of three @realDonaldTrump Tweets that were posted earlier today for repeated and severe violations of our Civic Integrity policy. Civic integrity policy You may not use Twitter's services for the purpose of manipulating or interfering in . 8 help.twitter.com Twitter Safety @TwitterSafety This means that the account of @realDonaldTrump will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked. 7:02 PM · Jan 6, 2021

Shortly after, Facebook[20] then announced that it would place a block on his accounts for both Facebook and Instagram indefinitely with a lengthy explanation posted[21] by Mark Zuckerberg that received nearly 1 million likes, 245,000 comments and 175,000 shares in just six hours (shown below).


Mark Zuckerberg O 6 hours ago The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden. His decision to use his platform to condone rather than condemn the actions of his supporters at the Capitol building has rightly disturbed people in the US and around the world. We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect -- and likely their intent -- would be to provoke further violence. Following the certification of the election results by Congress, the priority for the whole country must now be to ensure that the remaining 13 days and the days after inauguration pass peacefully and in accordance with established democratic norms. Over the last several years, we have allowed President Trump to use our platform consistent with our own rules, at times removing content or labeling his posts when they violate our policies. We did this because we believe that the public has a right to the broadest possible access to political speech, even controversial speech. But the current context is now fundamentally different, involving use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government. We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.

Other social media companies, such as Snapchat and Twitch, followed suit afterward and similarly suspended Trump's accounts and abilities to post on their platforms.[22]

Several images of the protesters walking around the Capitol, entering offices, the chamber and viewing computers of politicians or stealing items also began circulating social media during the event. Many of these later evolved into an array of meme formats.

I'm In Nancy Pelosi's Office

One such viral image was shared by Twitter[9] user ElijahSchaffer who claimed they were inside Nancy Pelosi’s office viewing her computer screen (seen below, left). The tweet has since been deleted but became an exploitable meme format where users swapped various images onto the screen (seen below, right).


Tweet O ELIJAH SCHAFFER @ElijahSchaffer BREAKING: I am inside Nancy Pelosi's office with the thousands of revolutionaries who have stormed the building To put into perspective how quickly staff evacuated, emails are still on the screen along side a federa Halo 2 Anniversary @Halo2AnOfficial 000 trying to kill the ender dragon in nancy pelosi's office before the feds come challenge 3:57 PM Jan 6, 2021 · Twitter Web App 0000 0000

Protesters In Senate Chamber Dais and Lounging In Desks

Other images of protesters in the chamber or in offices were also widely spread online, including someone shouting from the dais shared by Twitter[10] user igorbobic, which was similarly used in memes (shown below, left). Numerous images of people lounging at desks in the Capitol were also spread, including one from Twitter[11] user PUNISHEDASH (shown below, right).


Igor Bobic @igorbobic Replying to @igorbobic They're in the chamber. One is up on the dais yelling "Trump won that election!" This is insane Ash @PUNISHEDASH God I wish that were me AMERCA gettyimages SAUL LOEB

Man Carrying Podium

A photo of a man walking in the Capitol Building while stealing a podium adorned with a U.S. seal was similarly memed by many online after Twitter[15] user AnthonyQuintano tweeted a photo of them, receiving over 300 likes and 400 retweets in roughly two hours (shown below).


Man carrying a podium inside the capitol building and Waldo in a similar pose

Viking Protester

Another man, later identified as Jake Angeli, was photographed wearing a fur hood adorned with horns that also went viral after his image was shared, including a tweet from Twitter[16] user BDSixsmith, which received over 13,000 likes and 3,600 retweets in two hours (seen below, left). Memes depicting the Viking Protester, such as a Wojak variant (seen below, right), spread online shortly after.


MALZA CRLAT AGE POL

Elizabeth From Knoxville

Elizabeth From Knoxville refers to a viral video of a supporter of Donald Trump claiming to have been maced by law enforcement during the 2021 storming of the Capitol. The video inspired jokes, memes, remixes as well as the "Onion Towel" conspiracy theory, alleging that she dabs her eyes with an onion in the video to induce tears.


My name is Elizabeth, I'm from Knoxville Tennessee.

Tighter Security Than The Capitol

Tighter Security Than The Capitol refers to jokes comparing the apparent ease with which rioters infiltrated the Capitol during the "Save America" rally to places with tougher security. Comments about the inadequate security at the Capitol also led to a resurgence of Storm Area 51 jokes, as people pondered if the satirical stunt would have worked.


Shea Serrano 000 @SheaSerrano the tio who's sitting on the ice chest during the backyard barbecue RACHIE @itsmeRachie · 18h Name a place with tighter security than the Capitol. RIGHT answers only. Show this thread 11:13 AM · Jan 7, 2021 · Twitter Web App

Meme Examples


@BitchAss30wie capital hill right now "O' Their Own Pvt. James Ramirez J st Bn.. 75th Ranger U.S.A•.-• Foreskin King when \ pull up to the capitol building and find AOC seat | person smelling a chair Yass!!! based!!! rald the capital building! #TrumpWon #MAGA MAGA NO00000!!! THOSE BLM ANTIFA TERRORISTS ARE DESTROYING PROPERTY! MAGA AMSR

Ricky Rocksteady @RocksteadyRicky 000 Capitol during BLM protests Сapitol today 8:21 PM · Jan 6, 2021 · Twitter for Android 49.8K Retweets 1.4K Quote Tweets 191.3K Likes 27 MAGA Protesters Set Police to Easy Mode Jeb Bush flawless victory behind the dais in capitol hill

Search Interest

External References

[1] Washington Post – D.C. Protest

[2] The Hill – Pro-Trump Protests Arrests

[3] Washington Post – D.C. Protest Live Updates

[4] Twitter – Julio_Rosas11

[5] Twitter – KBoomhauer

[6] Twitter – PeterWelch

[7] Twitter – TaylerUSA

[8] Twitter – CalebJHull

[9] Twitter – elijahschaffer

[10] Twitter – igorbobic

[11] Twitter – PUNISHEDASH

[12] Twitter – realDonaldTrump

[13] Twitter – willsommer

[14] Twitter – kevinroose

[15] Twitter – AnthonyQuintano

[16] Twitter – BDSixsmith

[17] Business Insider – Woman Shot In Protest

[18] Ebaumsworld – 31 memes that are storming capitol hill

[19] CNBC – Four Dead After Riots

[20] Twitter – TwitterSafety

[21] Facebook – Mark Zuckerberg

[22] Wall Street Journal – Trump Social Media Suspensions

[23] NBC News – Capitol Police Officer Killed

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