At least 13 people who stormed the US Capitol building in the aftermath of President Donald Trump’s “Save America Rally” were arrested Wednesday, though hundreds more were allowed to leave the premises with nothing but a warning.
None of those arrested were Washington, DC, residents, Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee, who is leading the charge to clear the Capitol and establish a law enforcement perimeter, announced in a press conference. He said that officers also confiscated five firearms, including long guns and handguns, which, under DC law, members of the public can neither open-carry nor conceal-carry even with a license from another state.
“Due to the violent behavior toward the police officers there and their intent on gaining access to the Capitol, a riot was declared,” Contee said. “It was clear that the crowd was intent on causing harm to our officers by deploying chemical irritants on police to force entry into the United States Capitol building.”
According to a 6 pm readout from DC Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office, the people arrested were charged with offenses including assault, destruction of property, crossing a police line, carrying a pistol without a license, possession of a large-capacity ammunition-feeding device, and unregistered ammunition.
US Capitol Police, who appeared severely understaffed Wednesday, did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether they had made arrests of their own. FBI SWAT teams, Homeland Security Department Federal Protective Service officers, and National Guard troops were also eventually deployed to the Capitol.
At one point, police appeared to remove barriers on the Capitol grounds allowing demonstrators to advance closer to the building. But they changed tack after 4 pm, when police started using flash-bangs and other riot control tools to move the crowd. Hundreds eventually left on their own accord after being told they would be arrested if they stayed on the premises, CNN reported.
But Bowser assured in the press conference that “Anyone who has engaged in these activities or continues to engage in these activities will be held accountable.”
“The behavior that we are witnessing is shameful, unpatriotic, and above all, it is unlawful,” she said. “There will be law and order and this behavior will not be tolerated.”
Contee also warned that people who will violate the 6 pm curfew, implemented by Bowser on Wednesday, will be arrested. But as of 7:15 pm, hundreds of protesters were still roaming the Capitol grounds, and it did not appear that police were conducting mass arrests.
It’s not clear whether additional arrests of people who stormed the Capitol will follow. It’s possible some of them will later be identifiable by photos of them inside lawmakers’ offices, including that of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the floor of Congress.
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Hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol — but few have been arrested so far The British Journal Editors and Wire Services/ Vox.