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Hawai‘i Delegation Safe as Violence Erupts in Capitol

January 6, 2021, 1:41 PM HST
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The United States Capitol Building. iStock photo provided by AARP Hawaii.

Chaos has erupted in the nation’s capitol.

Supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building in Washington DC Wednesday, halting a Congressional session that will inevitably end with the confirmation of President-Elect Joe Biden as the new leader of the United States.

Members of Congress, who were initially locked in their chambers for a time as a safety precaution, and Vice President Mike Pence have since evacuated the building, as armed protesters broke into several offices and onto the floor of the Senate, taking pictures and videos while looting and defacing both personal and public property.

“This is a sad day in America’s history,” Hawai‘i Governor David Ige told local reporters after calling an unscheduled press conference Wednesday afternoon.

The US Army has activated all 1,100 troops in the Washington DC National Guard. The governor of Virginia has also deployed members of that state’s National Guard contingent, along with 200 Virginia state troopers, to help suppress the violence. The FBI has mobilized agents for response and members of the Secret Service, the Federal Protective Service, and the Arlington police have been dispatched to assist the US Capitol Police in quelling the uprising.

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At least one woman was shot inside the Capitol Building. According to a report by ABC News, she was rushed to the hospital in serious condition with a neck wound. The circumstances surrounding her shooting and whether or not law enforcement was involved remain unclear, though images from around the time of the incident show police with weapons drawn.

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According to a report by the New York Times at around 12:30 p.m. HST, police had seized five guns and arrested at least 13 people. Leaders from both political parties called on President Trump to speak out publicly against the violent actions of his supporters in the nation’s capitol Wednesday.

The president eventually took to Twitter, releasing a video message in which he asked protesters to “Go home, and go home in peace,” yet continued to promote false and disproven claims of election fraud. That video has since been deleted from the social media site.

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1346912780700577792

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GOP Senators Mitt Romney, of Utah, and Ben Sasse, of Nebraska, excoriated Trump Wednesday afternoon, blaming him for inciting the violence that unfolded in the nation’s capitol.

“This is what the president has caused today, this insurrection,” Romney said.

“Today, the United States Capitol, the world’s greatest symbol of self-government, was ransacked while the leader of the free world cowered behind his keyboard — tweeting against his vice president for fulfilling the duties of his oath to the Constitution,” Sasse released in a prepared statement.

“Lies have consequences,” Sasse continued. “This violence was the inevitable and ugly outcome of the president’s addiction to constantly stoking division.”

President-Elect Biden also took Trump to task in an impromptu news conference Wednesday afternoon.

“This is not dissent, it’s disorder. It’s chaos. It borders on sedition. And it must end now,” Biden said. “I call on this mob to pull back and allow the work of democracy to go forward.”

The Hawai‘i delegation informed concerned residents of their safety on Twitter, including newly elected Rep. Kai Kahele, a former state senator from Hilo, who thanked law enforcement for their efforts.

Senator Brian Schatz assured his Hawai‘i constituency in an email that the violence would not stop Congress from completing the task at hand.

“The attack on the Capitol and our democracy is despicable, but it will not stop us from completing our constitutional duties and affirming the results of the presidential election,” Schatz wrote.

In his press conference Wednesday, Governor Ige described the actions in Washington as “an assault on our democracy.”

While condemning the violence of the protests in DC, Ige addressed local protestors, saying he was “proud of the people of Hawai‘i” for their ability to remain respectful and peaceful in stating their positions, which allowed the state to avoid the chaos and violence seen across the mainland.

Ige went on to say that although police continue to monitor the local protests, he and fellow occupants of the statehouse feel safe. He stressed the importance of communication between opposing sides and understanding the constitutional rights to a peaceful protest.

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