Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Thursday the brazen attack on the US Capitol by supporters of United States President Donald Trump was “clearly the result of a failure” and called for an investigation into the events.
“Congress must create a nonpartisan commission to understand the security failures that happened on the Capitol,” Bowser said at a news conference on Thursday.
Bowser, a Democrat, has frequently sparred with Trump. She blamed the Republican president for the events saying: “What happened yesterday is what he wanted to happen and we must not underestimate the damage he can do to our nation and our democracy over the next two weeks.”
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee said four people died during the chaos at the Capitol, including one woman who was shot by a Capitol Police officer. Three other people died because of medical emergencies, and 56 police officers were injured.
During the news conference, Contee said 68 people were arrested, with 41 of those on US Capitol grounds for violating the 6pm (23:00 GMT) curfew imposed by Mayor Bowser. Some of the others were arrested on charges related to carrying unlicensed or prohibited firearms.
The first round of rioters involved in the incident was due in court to face charges on Thursday.
The FBI is taking the lead on an investigation into two pipe bombs that were recovered from the headquarters of the Republican and Democratic national committees.
DC police said the bombs were authentic, and told reporters they had recovered a cooler from a vehicle on US Capitol grounds that contained Molotov cocktails.
Bowser said the police are asking the public for help in identifying rioters, many of whom posed for photos inside the Capitol and can be seen in viral videos on social media without masks.
She also said the events on Wednesday raise questions about police treatment of protesters, arguing that security forces were more aggressive towards Black Lives Matter protests, which erupted in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in May.
“We must also understand why the federal law enforcement response was much stronger at the protests over the summer than during yesterday’s attack on Congress,” Bowser said.
While the number of people arrested is expected to grow, the initial number paled in comparison with the more than 300 people arrested by police following the June 1 protests in the District of Columbia.
In that incident, baton-swinging police and federal agents fired smoke canisters, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets to drive protesters farther from the White House, enabling Trump to walk across Lafayette Square and hold up a Bible in front of historic St John’s Church.
While law enforcement officers were severely criticised for being too aggressive at Lafayette Square, however, the Capitol Police are now facing questions about why they did not do more to secure the Capitol and allowed many of the rioters to later exit the building without arrests.
Earlier, Bowser extended a public emergency declaration for 15 days, an action she said will allow her to restrict peoples’ movements around the city if necessary. Democrat President-elect Joe Biden is slated to take the oath of office on January 20, 13 days from Thursday.
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