Rioters who breached the Capitol building posed for photographs with stolen property. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
For weeks, President Trump and his supporters had been publicly voicing plans for a “wild” protest in Washington on January 6. And ahead of Wednesday, Capitol Police had told members of Congress that they had a plan for enhanced security. In late December, Capitol Police spokesperson Eva Malecki told Roll Call that the department “has comprehensive security plans in place and we continuously monitor and assess new and emerging threats.”
Ryan added he had been told that the DC National Guard, DC Metro police, and SWAT teams would all be engaged in preparation for the day. (The Capitol Police are separate from the DC police that patrol the rest of the city.)
In reality, there were videos of police standing by or reacting slowly as Trump supporters got closer to the Capitol. It was a stark contrast to the show of force from police during this summer’s protests against police brutality in the wake of the George Floyd killing — or even Capitol Police arresting peaceful protesters with disabilities during a 2017 health care bill negotiation on the Hill.
“It’s pretty clear there’s a number of people who are going to be without employment very, very soon,” Ryan said. “This is an embarrassment both on behalf of the mob, the president … and the attempted coup — but also the lack of professional planning and dealing with what we knew was going to occur. There was a strategic breakdown, for sure. You can bet your ass we’re going to get to the bottom of it.”
he failures started long before Wednesday
Far from a surprise, the insurrection on Wednesday had been in the works for a long time, with support from the president himself. On December 19, he tweeted, “Big protest in D.C. on January 6th. Be there, will be wild!” His supporters took the name Wild Protest, as ProPublica reports, and began publicly planning an occupation. “We came up with the idea to occupy just outside the CAPITOL on Jan 6th,” movement leaders wrote on December 23.
Meanwhile, DC officials had begun tracking incoming bus reservations in the days leading up to Wednesday and realized “this could be a stadium-sized crowd,” one official told the Washington Post. On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser began warning DC residents to stay away from downtown, the Post reported.