By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
The U.S. Capitol locked down Wednesday with lawmakers inside as violent clashes broke out between supporters of President Donald Trump and police.
An announcement was played inside the Capitol as lawmakers were meeting and expected to vote to affirm Joe Biden’s victory. Due to an "external security threat," no one could enter or exit the Capitol complex, the recording said.
Both chambers abruptly went into recess.
The skirmishes occurred outside in the very spot where president-elect Biden will be inaugurated in just two weeks.
Protesters tore down metal barricades at the bottom of the Capitol’s steps and were met by officers in riot gear. Some tried to push past the officers who held shields and officers could be seen firing pepper spray into the crowd to keep them back. Some in the crowd were shouting "traitors" as officers tried to keep them back.
After weeks of egging on protests, Trump asked his followers to "stay peaceful" — but didn’t tell them to disperse — while the chaos accelerated Wednesday afternoon.
He tweeted: "I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, WE are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!"
CNN reported that members of Congress were evacuated and told to wear gas masks. Video showed officers with guns drawn on the floor of the Senate as protesters raged outside.
At least one person made onto the Senate floor, video showed.
A suspicious package was also reported in the area, Capitol Police said.
Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser imposed a 6 p.m. curfew amid the unrest.
The skirmishes came just shortly after Trump addressed thousands of his supporters, riling up the crowd with his baseless claims of election fraud at a rally near the White House on Wednesday ahead of Congress’ vote.
"We will not let them silence your voices," Trump told the protesters, who had lined up before sunrise to get a prime position to hear the president.
Illinois officials decried the storming of the Capitol, including Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who tweeted, "This is a coup attempt."
Kinzinger, address Trump, continued: "You are not protecting the country. Where is the DC guard? You are done and your legacy will be a disaster."
Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth tweeted, "I never thought I’d need to defend democracy from an attempted, violent overthrow in our own nation’s Capitol. I will not yield to those who seek to harm our democracy."
Gov. J.B. Pritzker said, "I’m disgusted watching the violence playing out inside and around the Capitol. First and foremost, I pray for the safety of our first responders, elected officials, staff and the public."
This is a developing story - Source: News Agencies.