AUSTIN (KXAN) — Both the United States House of Representatives and Senate are back in session after an hours-long siege of the U.S. Capitol.
D.C. Metro Police say protesters used chemical irritants against law enforcement and got inside the capitol building. One woman was shot in the chest and later died at the hospital. Several others have been injured, including officers.
The protesters did not support the certification of President-Elect Joe Biden’s win. The U.S. Capitol hasn’t experienced this level of a threat since 1814 when the British attacked and set it on fire, along with other landmarks, during the War of 1812.
As the Capitol was stormed on Wednesday, two Texas Congressmen were locked down inside their offices.
“We barricaded the doors, we heard alarms going off and protesters storming the hallways,” said Texas Republican Congressmen Michael McCaul. “The Capitol Police did a great job, but they were completely overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of these protesters.”
Democratic Congressmen Lloyd Doggett did not mince words.
“Everyday, until Donald Trump is no longer in office, we are in danger,” Doggett said.
He said this was a historic moment which questioned the authority of the entire country in the eyes of the rest of the world.
“Images of this capitol in chaos today were up in Moscow, Beijing and our other adversaries. We sent a message that American democracy was not working,” Doggett said. “I am alarmed by what I see here, realizing how deep the division has become.”
Both congressmen questioned how this could have happened.
Brian Lynch, the Executive Director of Safety and Security for RANE [Risk Assistance Network + Exchange] is a former FBI and CIA agent. He told KXAN there were not enough police officers on the ground given the magnitude of the political event happening within the House and Senate chambers.
“If you are looking for a failure, I don’t know what one looks like other than what we have seen today,” Lynch said. “Every American has the right to protest. I think where the line is drawn is where you protest and how you protest. And I think today crossed that line.”
Lynch said federal law enforcement will now create what they call an “after-action report” which will recap the day’s events and identify flaws in the planning. New protocols will then be created to keep the same mistakes from happening again.
A roundtable of experts, professors and historians from the University of Texas’ LBJ School of Public Affairs say Texans have a role to play now.
Aside from moving forward with the results of the election, they urge us all to confront the issues that affect all Americans which have contributed to the violence in Washington, D.C., like housing affordability, healthcare access and racial divisiveness.
“We must confront these issues in our homes, neighborhoods, cities and states and deal with them as they face us,” said Don Kettl, a professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs.
“This is all rooted in a struggle for racial justice,” said Peniel Joseph, a Professor of Public Affairs and history and the Founding Director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy. “It’s not a lost cause. We have big reason to be optimistic based on what we saw in Georgia. But certainly, this was a shameful day in terms of what we represent symbolically for the world.”