Inside the Harrowing Day When the Capitol Went Into Lockdown - The New York Times

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When the Capitol was destroyed, three New York Times reporters were in the Capitol. This is their experience.



Washington — There is a problem within the Senate.

Under the press desk where I was standing, looking down at the room like a fish tank, Vice President Mike Pence had just been kicked out of the game without any explanation.

"We did have an emergency," a neon window sash that appeared in the middle of the conference hall yelled at a police officer. The officer and the janitor ran around, banging and locking the huge wooden door. The senators panicked and asked them to enter the room further.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah raised his hands angrily.

"This is what you got, guys," he yelled, referring to a dozen Republican colleagues who are challenging the president-elect Biden's victory, and the US Congress is meeting to affirm.

Everything has stopped now, and I have about 10 seconds to decide whether to run out or lock myself. I stayed and decided that no matter what I was going to do next, I should continue to watch the senator I was reporting there.

"The Senate is blocked," I texted the editor.

One minute later: "This is terrible."

The avid amateur photographer Senator Patrick Leahy took a few frames. Senator Amy Klobuchar blurted out and probably shot. The sound of silence enveloped the room, and the siren was crying outside.

The congressional police immediately turned and led the members into the well of the Senate and moved them out of the back door.

"What about us?" someone near me shouted from the balcony. The police yelled us to the basement.

I hurriedly picked up my laptop and fell a few reporters on the third floor. One of the lone military officers blocked a door leading to the Capitol Visitor Center, which was built on September 11, 2001. Japan was attacked as an underground fortress. It has also been violated.

Looking to the left, we see a series of senators winding forward into the narrow underground tunnel connecting the huge Capitol campus.

Senator Mitch McConnell, 78 years old, is a majority leader and polio survivor, actually carried by his security details, their hands under his arm to stabilize him, Make them rush. The bodybuilder of New York Senator Chuck Schumer firmly grasped the suit behind his neck. In order to keep a relaxed mood, my Roy Blunt Congressman in Missouri ridiculed that interruption might speed up the debate.

When we climbed to the ground, we worked on Capitol Hill for several years, in a place I was familiar with, but the police officer urged us not to share the details of our location. We stayed there for about four hours. Later, after clearing and fixing the Capitol, we traced our footsteps with the staff who carried two mahogany boxes with certificates from the electoral college.

The Congress resumed counting, and night fell into the early morning, and I found myself wandering alone in a silent Capitol, studying the remains of an abandoned profession. The gorgeous tile floor is one of the jewels of the building, covered with powdered fire extinguisher and pepper spray residue.

The window into the Speaker’s Hall was broken, and I spent a few hours here torturing the councillors. The bench is upturned. Soft drinks were scattered in the hall. On the second floor, I found a few syringes and a defibrillator used on someone (I want to know who it was), and then I was left behind. —

I could hear the protesters on the first floor of the Senate of the Capitol, so I heard noise downstairs. They came to the Ohio Clock corridor outside the senator's meeting room and shouted that they wanted to come in. I was shocked. They walked inside, thinking that this would be the most important moment of the day: a small group of protesters violated the Capitol.

I'm wrong.

I looked from the lobby to the rotunda and saw about a hundred people running around, yelling and pulling the podium. I took a lot of photos, and then went to the ceremonial door of the rotunda, where a policeman guarded the door to prevent hundreds of people from outside.

The mob gathered together, rushed to the officer, forcibly opened the door, and the crowd poured in. I ran upstairs to avoid the crowd and better recorded what happened. Suddenly, two or three men in black surrounded me, asking to know who I worked for.

Grabbing my press pass, they saw the New York Times written on my ID and were very angry. They threw me to the floor and tried to take my camera. I started calling for help. No one comes. People just watched. At this point, I think I might be killed and no one will stop them. They tore one of my cameras off me, broke the lens on the other, and ran away.

After that, I hyperventilated, not sure what to do. I know I need to stay away from the mob and hide the broken camera so that I won't be a target again. I came across Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s suite, but people destroyed her office, so I kept walking. Walking to her balcony, facing the National Mall to the west, I saw a large number of people covering the inaugural stage. I found a place to hide the camera there, then stood on the balcony and looked at the crowd, and then filmed with my phone. This is all I have left.

A person next to me said: "This will be the beginning of the civil war revolution."

At that time, the Congressional police began to deploy pepper spray or tear gas, and I knew I needed to find a hiding place. I don’t know where to go because I no longer have a parliamentary qualification. I ran to the third floor, opened the first door I saw, and hid in the corridor. I called my husband and the latter told me to keep calm and find a safer place.

But then the police found me. I told them that I was a photojournalist and my pass had been stolen, but they did not believe me. They drew their guns, pointed at them, yelled at me and made me kneel down. When I was lying on the ground, two other press photographers walked into the lobby and started shouting "She's a reporter!"

The officer told us that it was not safe to leave and helped us find a room where we could enter the barricade. The other two photographers grabbed my hand and told me that it was okay and they could be with them so they could vouch for me. At that moment I will never forget their kindness. —

After 2:15 pm, the assistants in the Chamber of Deputies began to quietly warn us to prepare for asylum. I thought about how stupid it was to put my schoolbag on the table at the other end of the Capitol and ask for a borrower's computer charger just in case.


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I saw the security details that Stany Hoyer, the representative of the majority leader of Maryland, rushed out with the other leadership. The police began to close the door of the gallery.

"We have someone violated the Capitol now," said the congressional police on the podium. He instructed to keep calm.

I just keep updating my story and need something to distract me. The councillors yelled. It feels unreal.

An official said that tear gas has been deployed in the rotunda, and everyone needs to grab an emergency cover from under his or her chair and prepare to wear it.

Suddenly, it seemed that every congressman had a duffel bag, pulled out the aluminum bag and emergency cover, and the staff was distributing them to reporters.

You might hear a bang outside, so I squatted behind the table, the real situation of the room was overwhelmed. I tore open the bag and struggled to open the hood. It was a hybrid gas mask with a tarp. It made loud noises and flashing red lights. I took a peek on the table and saw the Arizona Democratic representative Ruben Gallego (Ruben Gallego) and an experienced old man without a coat standing on a chair, shouting instructions on how to use a mask .

The officials dragged a huge wooden box in front of the gate of the House of Representatives chamber as a makeshift roadblock-the box that Vice President Mike Pence had just walked through, and put them on the box with voter cards. The floor was empty, except for the staff's assistant shouting everyone in the gallery to go out.

I picked up my laptop, mobile phone and this rotating hood, grabbed them all tightly to my chest, and then climbed to the back of the gallery, where a line was about to leave the room. There is a railing dividing the area into several parts, and we try to climb over. What is faster? Hiding below? Crawl over? When I was planning to escape, I heard the voice yelling "Get down!" Everyone fell to the floor.

Facing down behind the auditorium chair, I could see several people smoking guns at the door of the barricade room. The Republican representative of Oklahoma, Markwayne Mullin, tried to reason with anyone who knocked on the door. I began to think about how to stay behind the chair. Is it worth taking a few steps to see if the TV device provides more cover? But if people start shooting, will I be more susceptible? I stay where I am.

I sent a few "I love you" text, otherwise it would be frozen on the ground. I don't know what will happen. I just want them to know.

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