A new chapter in American history unfolded in the nation's capital Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, when a pro-Donald Trump crowd disrupted a congressional hearing to certify electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden.
The hourslong siege of the U.S. Capitol prompted strong reactions from lawmakers in the Minnesota and Wisconsin delegations after being forced to take shelter as rioters breached offices and legislative chambers.
Undeterred by the day's violence, the joint session of Congress resumed late Wednesday and continued overnight to certify Biden's 306-232 Electoral College victory.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who was part of the panel overseeing vote certification, went to social media to vow to complete the process.
"Anarchy will not prevail. Democracy will," Klobuchar posted on Twitter in the afternoon Wednesday.
Thanks to all who are putting themselves on the line to protect our democracy. I’m committed to finishing the job we started today, something I just said to the senators. Everyone agrees. We’ll do that as soon as it is safe. Anarchy will not prevail. Democracy will.— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) January 6, 2021
The area's other federal lawmakers posted messages to constituents indicating they were safe.
- Do you have friends or family in the D.C. area, or news to share with readers? Reach a reporter at email@example.com.
Minnesota 2nd Congressional District Rep. Angie Craig tweeted 2:39 p.m. Wednesday a message from her office that she was sheltering in place on the Capitol Grounds. She called on her fellow lawmakers to join her in condemning the mob's actions.
[LEGISLATIVE WATCH: The 2nd Congressional District covers parts of southeastern Minnesota, including Goodhue, Dakota and Wabasha counties.]
"This is not a peaceful protest — this is a violent attack on our democracy," Craig wrote. "The events unfolding on Capitol Hill are unprecedented in the history of this country. There is absolutely no excuse for this chaos — and it is the responsibility of all members of Congress to condemn what we have seen today."
Please read the following statement from my office on the events unfolding at the Capitol today: pic.twitter.com/PtLK588PgS— Angie Craig (@RepAngieCraig) January 6, 2021
The DFLer followed up with a tweet Wednesday evening encouraging Trump's Cabinet members to invoke the 25th Amendment, the section in the Constitution that spells out the process of stripping a president of power if they are unable to fulfill their duties.
"We must defend our nation and preserve our democracy," Craig wrote.
The President should not serve another day in office. I encourage members of his Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove him. We must defend our nation and preserve our democracy.— Angie Craig (@RepAngieCraig) January 7, 2021
Fellow DFLer Tina Smith, Minnesota's junior senator, shared pictures Wednesday night of the damage to the Capitol.
"I truly believe our democracy is resilient and can withstand this desperate coup attempt," Smith wrote in a social media thread. "But it’s a reminder of how hard we need to fight for our core principles, that no one is above the law and that in a democracy the people decide. "
The U.S. Capitol tonight: pic.twitter.com/k3mmNxfeDw— Senator Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) January 7, 2021
Trump-endorsed Rep. Tom Tiffany from Wisconsin's 7th District in a message on social media said violence was "unacceptable," but that the right for peaceful protest should be upheld.
Peaceful protest is a constitutionally guaranteed right and that right must be protected for all Americans.— Rep. Tom Tiffany (@RepTiffany) January 6, 2021
Violence is unacceptable. https://t.co/VSMDk87ivM
Tiffany was part of a group of GOP lawmakers that voted to reject electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania over claims of voting irregularities. Both sets of Wisconsin and Minnesota senators voted against the objections.
Wisconsin's Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin tweeted that she was safe Wednesday afternoon, while also criticizing the president for contributing to the day's events.
"I am safe, but it's disgraceful that our country has to experience this violence because of Trump's lies, conspiracies and un-American attacks on our Democracy," Baldwin wrote.
I am safe, but it's disgraceful that our country has to experience this violence because of Trump's lies, conspiracies and un-American attacks on our Democracy.
I am safe, but it's disgraceful that our country has to experience this violence because of Trump's lies, conspiracies and un-American attacks on our Democracy.— Sen. Tammy Baldwin (@SenatorBaldwin) January 6, 2021
Democratic Rep. Ron Kind from Congressional District 3 lamented the disruption of the country's tradition for peaceful transfer of power.
"Instead, we are facing a lawless assault on our democracy," Kind said in a statement. "The President should call for law and order instead of inciting this mob behavior."
More local reaction
Students at Kenyon-Wanamingo High School in rural Goodhue County won't be in class Thursday and Friday because of pandemic-related changes, but social studies teacher Dan Rechtzigel said he will address the storming of the U.S. Capitol when in-person class resumes on Monday. The rapidly evolving situation makes it difficult to plan what to say, he added.
"As a rule, when a big event like this occurs I begin class by asking if students have questions about it," he wrote in an email to the Republican Eagle. "This usually launches a Q&A session that can sometimes take up the whole hour."
Law enforcement in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin told RiverTown Multimedia they were monitoring the situation locally, but did not expect to make any changes.
"Our office is tracking the incidents around the country, but we are not increasing our forces or assisting any other agencies at this point," Goodhue County Sheriff Marty Kelly said. "This is not to say that we won’t assist other agencies if they need help."
There were reports of protests at the Minnesota State Capitol and outside Gov. Tim Walz' residence.
The head of Minnesota's Republican Party in a news release Wednesday afternoon issued a message condemning violence and calling for unity.
“The violence taking place at the United States Capitol is not American or representative of what we believe in, in our country," Minnesota GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan said. "Peaceful protests are protected by our constitution, attacking police and breaking into the Capitol is not. It’s important we remember we are all Americans. Hoping for peace, safety and positive forward path for all.”
RiverTown Multimedia reporters Rachel Fergus and Rebecca Mariscal contributed to this story. Last updated 11:00 a.m. Jan. 7, 2021.