The attack on the US Capitol on Wednesday is already one of the most memorable events in American history. The Capitol was last breached when British forces invaded during the War of 1812. 209 years later, a crowd of insurgents attacked the building at the behest of none other than US President Donald Trump, who was seated but on his way out.
Trump called the mob to the Capitol to thwart confirmation of Biden’s election victory through tweets in late December. What followed was a near-unprecedented attack on senators, congressmen, Capitol police, and journalists trying to document the scene. Details continue to appear in press releases and social media. In an attempt to correct the events of that day, GQ presents this summary of the events that led up to the attack, what happened on January 6th and the effects since then.
The call to action
Despite claims by Washington police chief Robert Contee that “there was no information suggestive of a violation of the US Capitol,” was on social media, Trumpist forums, and websites in the weeks leading up to January 6th like this one explicitly planned 4Chan.
Organizers of various groups – including Stop the Steal, TheDonald Message Board, MyMilitia.com, and a Facebook group called the Red State Secession – were spurred on December 23 by a Trump tweet instructing supporters to participate in a “major protest in DC in January “6th. Be there, be wild! “When Trump said he was there,” Arieh Kovler, a political adviser who deals with alt-right activity online, told GQ, “they interpreted it as a call to action, as their marching orders.”
The planning began on that day when the leaders of a Stop the Steal group wrote a text to the supporters: “We had the idea of occupying something outside of CAPITOL on January 6th,” said PBS. They even called the event the “wild protest” and created their own website, WildProtest.com, which has since been discontinued. Calls to action became increasingly violent. At the Oath Keepers forum, which brings together former and current pro-Trump military personnel, members confirmed that they are “ready to die again for my country” to stop certification.
As they planned
In TheDonald forum, the plans became more and more specific: on posters it was discussed that there are only 2,000 members of the Capitol Police, a number that they can easily overwhelm. Floor plans were published alongside guidelines. “Find the tunnels. Arrest the worst traitors, ”one wrote, according to The Daily Beast. One person who wanted to take part in the rally wrote a post entitled, “Today I said goodbye to my children.”
Advance Democracy, a nonprofit research group, found that 50% of posts on TheDonald.Win, a Trump supporter hangout created after Reddit banned a similar channel, “included unmoderated calls for violence in the top five responses “.
“All that crap of not bringing guns to DC has to stop,” read one post. “This is America. Fuck DC, it’s in the Constitution. Bring your damn guns.” Another forum member wrote, “Armed with a rifle, handgun, 2 knives and as much ammo as you can carry.”
The discussion was also not included in message boards. On the platform popular with the far-right social media platform Parler, plans were made in which a user asked the followers to vote who they wanted to see “sent” first between Nancy Pelosi, John Roberts and Mike Pence. On Twitter and TikTok, Advance Democracy found accounts related to QAnon that were often tweeted about January 6th ahead of the day.
Some rioters appeared ready to use violence on Wednesday too. They brought a noose to the steps of the Capitol. Some wore tactical equipment, bulletproof vests and brought cable ties (here too), presumably to tie up hostages.