This week, a mob of extremists, incited by President Donald Trump, bypassed police lines and entered the Capitol. They smashed windows and furniture, stole a lectern and laptops, and broke into the Senate chambers. They disrupted Congress and forced lawmakers to evacuate to security bunkers. Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, and about 50 other officers were injured. Three bombs were found on the Capitol grounds and at the Democratic and Republican national headquarters.
This insurrection revealed a shocking lack of security: The system meant to keep order at the seat of American democracy plainly failed. The rioters did not pass through metal detectors or any sort of security apparatus on their way into the building, and many seemed to be armed. One man was found to be carrying 11 Molotov cocktails “ready to go,” according to the Department of Justice. Officers arrested only about 20 rioters during the siege, allowing most of them to walk out of the Capitol as if they had done nothing wrong, and an officer may have even directed rioters toward the office of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer when asked, according to The New York Times.
A breach such as this will have consequences. The chief of the Capitol Police has already resigned, as have the House and Senate’s chief law-enforcement officers. Congress must hold an inquiry to understand what happened and how the building could have been invaded. Hundreds of millions of dollars of post-9/11 security improvements did not prove sufficient to keep a few thousand people from storming the gates. Americans must understand, too, why the Capitol Police repeatedly turned down offers for reinforcements on the days leading up to the riot and during the invasion itself. This cannot happen again. We must have answers.