“I worked in Washington for almost 14 years, and this was definitely my craziest day,” Loubs said of Wednesday’s chaotic events. “I could never have imagined in a million years that the Capitol would one day be occupied by protesters.”
Wednesday’s events at the US Capitol from the photographer’s point of view
In the morning when Trump’s supporters invaded the US Capitol, I knew it was going to be a pretty big day. AFP photographers worked throughout the city, and my job was to be in the Capitol and photograph the joint session where the counting would take place. But I had no idea what was going to happen.
I started my day by photographing the session for 20 minutes until it was interrupted. I went to my laptop in another room. Suddenly there was a warning message about the “security situation” inside the building, I had started the day by photographing the session for 20 minutes, and when it was interrupted, I returned to my laptop in another room. Suddenly, the announcement warned us of the “security situation” in the building, urging us to seek safe refuge.
As a photographer, the last thing you want is to be indoors when everything is happening outside. So some of us went to the troubled second floor, a place right at the door of the Senate House. This is a very important part of the Capitol, usually a very guarded area, so it is unusual to see at least one protester there, not to mention the 12 to 15 people who were there.
At that moment, I took my big shot. Some protesters had painted faces and bodies, they wore costumes. One was wearing a Viking hat, the herd waving Trump’s flags. Another had the Confederate flag. They were clearly Trump’s supporters who intended to upset the order. They shouted at the police and did everything they could to upset the situation. About 12 police officers set up a line in an attempt to deter them from entering further premises. They tried to talk to the protesters, asking, “How can we resolve this peacefully? How can we make you leave the premises? ”.
I think this is definitely the part of the Capitol that has never seen protesters. This will be the biggest story of the day. I had no idea it was just the tip of the iceberg.
Usually, law enforcement acts very quickly in such situations. They push down and force the invaders to the ground, handcuff them and take them out, but this time it didn’t happen. All of these people had entered the building in some way and it was not known if they were armed and what their intentions were.
Then I heard a commotion, turned and saw hundreds of people begin to flow into the round. At that moment, I realized that something more important was actually happening here than I thought at first. People decorated the statues with MAGA (Trumpet slogan “Make America Great Again”) hats, holding the flags of the Trump campaign in their hands. The atmosphere was like a circus.
I was afraid that the police would sweep me along with the protesters, so I went down the corridor in the direction of the Senate House and saw thick smoke in the air. People began to retreat. People coughed and ran, there was general madness.
At that moment, I noticed people entering Nancy Pelosi’s office. This is usually a very safe part of the building. She is the Speaker of the Chamber, second only to the President – no one can just walk into her office. But there was no staff or police. Free admission for anyone.
The protesters sat at desks, made selfies and dug into the office. It was just a strange scene. I continued to move around the office and saw a guy who had set his feet on a desk, researched emails, and felt at home. After the alarm was issued, the office staff had left so hurriedly that the computers were still turned on and e-mails were displayed on the screens.
I chatted with the guy who was sitting, legs raised on the table. It seems to me they were all just full of surprises. This is one of the most guarded buildings in Washington, but here they are – protesters who seem to have taken full control of the second floor of the US Capitol. It was simply mind-boggling.
As a photographer, I often worry that people don’t like being photographed, I don’t want to be subjected to violence. But these people either didn’t notice that they were being photographed, or they didn’t care. No one hid their face, no one tried to stop me from taking pictures.
The crowd grew bigger and more unpredictable, so we decided to go down a narrow corridor, turn around the corner and go to the police SWAT police unit, which had weapons that are mostly seen in the movies. Examining the area and walking from room to room, they shout, “Hands up! Who are you?” It was indescribable. It seems to me that this was the first time a gun had been aimed at me.
They let us through and told us to look for a place to take refuge. The three of us barricaded ourselves in the office on the third floor, where I could charge and test my phone. My wife knew I was at the Capitol, so she was very worried. At one point, she had sent a text message that shots had been fired in the building, and that was the only way I found out. When you take photos, you work on autopilot and you don’t have time to think about what’s really going on around you.
I do not know how what happened could have happened at all. Huge metal barriers are installed around the building during various political gatherings and inaugurations. During the Black Lives Matter protests, the White House was surrounded by these barriers for up to a month. It just wasn’t there that morning.
During such events, human instinct is to flee. However, despite the possible outcome, we must move towards that. Photos could not be taken from inside a locked office.
Around 20 We received the news that the US Congress had reconvened to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election.
Of course, the windows were still knocked out, the floors were slippery with tear gas, and things were tearing everywhere. But Congress returned to work. Five hours later, the building was vacated and life returned to normal. It seems to me that the members of Congress wanted to show exactly that the work of the government will continue.
Jauns.lv has already reported that five people, including one police officer, have died after the riots in the US Capitol.
The woman, who later died in hospital, was shot dead in the clashes. The media reports that it was Tramp’s supporter Ashley Babita, who served in the US Air Force for 14 years.
Two men and a woman with serious health problems also died in the Capitol during the riots.
Fourteen police officers were injured in the collisions, one of whom died at the hospital.
Protesters stormed the Capitol when Congress convened to officially confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Therefore, the Congress had to adjourn the sitting, but the sitting was later resumed. Biden’s victory was confirmed late at night.