On January 6, 2021, the world watched in shock as the bastion of American democracy was invaded and overrun by a mob. Trump supporters came out in droves and stormed the U.S. Capitol.
What happened that day was meticulously pieced together by a visual investigation launched by The New York Times. Investigative reporters collected and analyzed thousands of video footage, most of which were filmed by the rioters themselves on their phones. They also obtained radio traffic, CCTV and even police bodycam footage. These thousands of videos were then synchronized and mapped to provide an unprecedented picture of the chaos that ensued around the building.
Though it touches briefly on extensive planning leading up to the riot and its aftermath, the report focuses on the terrifying events that went down, on the grounds and inside the Capitol.
On that fateful day, the American Congress and Senate held simultaneous sessions in the Capitol to ratify the 2020 election results.
Many of the protestors turned rioters turned insurrectionists believed Trump and his close officials who repeatedly said that the election was stolen, rigged, and fake. It was now their "duty" as patriots to "defend" the democracy and "save" it from a "stolen" election.
Online chatter had been busy - there were over a million mentions of storming the Capitol weeks before it happened, even in online forums. The Capitol floor plans, easily accessible online due to the building's historical origins, were also downloaded and used during the attack.
There were even far-right groups, the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, who made it their mission to storm the Capitol. They came prepared in full riot gear, with vests, helmets, chemical sprays and weapons like baseball bats. They were highly organized and used a radio app on their phones to coordinate the attack.
The coordination, the readiness, the weapons, and the sheer number of people who showed up meant that the guards barely stood a chance at holding them all back. The rioters quickly surrounded the building, breaking through barricades and going straight for the window, doors, and other potential entry points.
Once successfully inside, the mob headed straight to the Senate, and another group, to the Congress chambers. A quick-thinking policeman, Officer Eugene Goodman, alerted the Senate and distracted the protesters, allowing Senators and their staff to evacuate safely. A rioter, however, was shot and killed as they evacuated the Congress. Many were also looting, defacing, and ransacking the different offices and areas in the Capitol.
It would take about four hours for reinforcements, including the National Guard, to arrive on the scene to take control of the situation. Around 150 guards had been injured - due to the lack of instructions, reinforcement and protective gear.
The January 6 Capitol attack was not the result of an overnight or spontaneous act of violence.
It was planned and coordinated weeks before, with top officials themselves inciting an already emotional group of people to take up arms. Officials have a responsibility and should be careful with their words and actions.
This attack further demonstrates how America is, sadly, still so divided within.
Directed by: Nancy Gauss