How did a pro-Trump mob of rioters breach the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday afternoon, accessing the Senate floor and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s desk? And why did the riot continue for hours?
These questions will be asked, scrutinized, and investigated for days and months to come as the dust settles from the unprecedented events that occurred in the nation’s capital on Wednesday. In the meantime, there are a few basic points to keep in mind about how things usually work and what we know so far about what happened.
The building’s security is manned by the U.S. Capitol Police, which is small: The force provides roughly 2,000 officers (with 2,300 employees total, including civilian employees) and is “responsible for protecting Congress and the public, and maintaining order while protecting the U.S. Capitol.” It is overseen by the four members of the Capitol Police Board, with Congressional oversight. The Capitol Building is over 16 acres large, and on Wednesday was surrounded by many thousands of armed rioters.
Former police chief of Washington, D.C., David Ramsey told CNN that, “they got overwhelmed awful quick. There’s no way they should’ve gotten into that building.”