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'Shellshocked': Connecticut Lawmakers Locked Down At Capitol

Andrew Harnik
AP Photo
People shelter in the House gallery as protesters try to break into the House chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.

As a mob supporting Republican President Donald Trump breached security perimeters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation were among those caught inside. Lawmakers inside the House chamber were told to put on gas masks as tear gas was fired in the rotunda. U.S. Rep. John Larson of Connecticut’s 1st District was in his office waiting to be called to the House floor for a vote on Electoral College tallies when the breach happened.

“I had a perfect view of the east side,” he told Connecticut Public Radio. “There were crowds that continued to gather and the more that the president threw gasoline on the fire, so to speak, enticed them to go to the Capitol and disrupt the proceedings.”

Congressman Jim Himes told CNN he was one of those evacuated during the chaos. 

“We were taken out through a door where they had tactical teams keeping protesters on their bellies, literally outside the House doors,” Himes said. “So people had gotten to the doors of the chamber. Windows had been broken. When we left there were officers with their guns drawn and pointed at the doors. Obviously, indicating that they thought there was a threat about to come through.”  

A press contact at Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s office said the congresswoman was safe at an undisclosed location with colleagues immediately after the evacuation.

Meanwhile, Sen. Richard Blumenthal issued a statement, saying he and his staff were at a secure location.

“I am absolutely sickened by scenes of anarchist mobs violently swarming the Capitol,” the statement went on. “It’s not a protest -- it’s armed insurrection. This is an assault on the heart of our democracy incited and fueled by the President of the United States and his enablers.”

Lawmakers had been meeting to accept the votes of the Electoral College and affirm Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Blumenthal pledged that work would continue.

Sen. Chris Murphy gave a similar assurance via Twitter: 

Gov. Ned Lamont issued a video statement Wednesday afternoon as Trump had still failed to make any attempt to tell his supporters to leave the Capitol building.

“Mr. President, words have consequences,” he said. “And your angry words have dangerous consequences. We’re looking at the TV right now. Demand that your agitators stand down. And respect the peaceful transfer of power.”

Trump posted a video to Twitter minutes later reiterating a lie that he won the election. 

He told the extremists storming the Capitol “we have to have peace” and said, “go home. We love you. You are very special.” 

Earlier Wednesday, in a huge rally near the White House, the president egged his supporters on to march to Capitol Hill.

As night fell and the crowds of protesters were eventually pushed back, lawmakers made good on their promises to reconvene for the day’s business.

“I think the goal is to do your duty, and if that means staying all night, I think we should stay all night,” Larson said. “That’s the responsibility that we have to the American people, and no attempted coup is going to stand in the way of our democratic process.”

This post has been updated.