Police with guns drawn watch as protesters try to break into the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in Washington. Photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite

After rioters stormed and occupied the U.S. Capitol today in an unprecedented siege as 2020 Electoral College ballots were being counted in a joint session of Congress, Rep. Lee Zeldin issued a statement calling for “zero tolerance for violence in any form” and asking “everyone to please cooperate with Capitol Police who need to gain control of this situation immediately.”

The rioters were part of a crowd of thousands who attended a rally in Washington D.C. today dubbed “Save America” in support of President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.

Trump addressed the crowd gathered at the Ellipse, a park south of the White House, repeating his claims of voting fraud and an election, “rigged” by “people trying to illegally take over our country.”

He urged the crowd to march to the Capitol where Congress had begun counting the Electoral College ballots, as mandated by the Constitution.

“We’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue and walk to the Capitol. We’re going to try to give Republicans the kind of pride and boldness they need to take back our country,” Trump told the crowd.

“You can’t take back our country with weakness,” the President said.

Shortly afterward, a crowd arrived at the Capitol, broke through barriers and entered the building. Videos taken at the scene and posted on Twitter showed rioters breaking glass doors and walking through the building. The Senate and House chambers were locked down and lawmakers were evacuated.

Rioters gained entry into both chambers as well as to the offices of some lawmakers, including the office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, according to photos and videos posted on social media.

At least one rioter was shot as she was climbing through a broken window at the Capitol; she later died at an area hospital, according to media reports.

”This should never be the scene at the U.S. Capitol,” Zeldin said in the statement he issued this afternoon.

“This is not the America we all love,” he said. “We can debate and we can disagree, even on a January 6th following a Presidential election. We can all passionately love our country, but in our republic we elect people to represent us to voice our objections in the House and Senate on this day,” Zeldin said.

Zeldin (R-Shirley), a staunch and outspoken supporter of the President, did not ask the President to condemn the actions of the rioters.

In a 12:40 p.m. tweet today, Zeldin said he would be “speaking shortly on the House floor to voice objections” to the Electoral College ballots… “in certain battleground states.”

Just before the rioters breached the Capitol building, the joint session of Congress had recessed for debate in the separate chambers of the House and Senate after an objection was raised to Electoral College ballots from Arizona.

Trump released a video late this afternoon asking the crowd to “go home” and to respect law enforcement but he did not condemn the rioters’ actions. In the video, Trump reiterated his claims of the election being stolen from him and also told the rioters “we love you.”

The mayor of Washington D.C. announced a 6 p.m. curfew and metro police established a perimeter outside the Capitol building.

The House and Senate reconvened tonight in their respective chambers, which has been secured by law enforcement, to continue the work of counting the Electoral College ballots. The count is mandated to take place on this date by the Constitution.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.