U.S. Capitol Building
U.S. Capitol. Photo by Darrow Montgomery.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered a 6 p.m. curfew following a violent insurrection and attempted coup at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday afternoon. Supporters of President Donald Trump broke through barricades and overcame U.S. Capitol Police as Congress debated confirming electoral college votes for President-elect Joe Biden.

The riotous mob carried Confederate flags and draped themselves in pro-Trump insignia. Others donned tactical gear. They broke windows and stormed into offices. A woman was shot and killed inside the building by police, a Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson confirms. Interim MPD Chief Robert Contee said his agency will investigate the shooting.

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At a Wednesday evening press briefing, Contee said that five weapons had been recovered and “just above” 13 arrests were made. None of the arrests were of D.C. residents. MPD will assist the U.S. Capitol Police in clearing the building of insurrectionists, Contee confirmed. Asked whether officers will arrest those who they find inside the building, Bowser said she was “not prepared to talk about specifics of deployment and strategy.”

Bowser said officers from surrounding jurisdictions such as Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Arlington County, and Baltimore city will assist, as will officers with the Maryland, Virginia, and New Jersey state police.

The mayor’s curfew will remain in effect until 6 a.m. Thursday and applies to all non-essential workers. That means any person in public spaces between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. is subject to arrest. Bowser did not directly answer when asked whether her curfew is in effect on federal land.

“The behavior that we are witnessing is shameful, unpatriotic and above all it is unlawful,” Bowser said during the press conference. “Anyone who has engaged in these activities, continues to engage in these activities, will be held accountable. There will be law and order.”

As reports of the violent insurrection rippled throughout D.C., the city began to shut down. Here is an incomplete list:

  • Metrorail service ends at 8 p.m. and Metrobus service ends at 9 p.m.
  • Government-run COVID-19 testing sites are closed this evening.
  • COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled after 4 p.m. are canceled.
  • Downtown Day Services Center, which offers services to individuals experiencing homelessness, and their warming center were closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • The union representing grocery store workers says all D.C. Safeway stores closed at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 6 and will open Thursday, Jan. 7 at 6 a.m.

Many downtown businesses decided to temporarily close on Wednesday due to public safety concerns. Notably, a popular hangout spot for Trump supporters proactively closed ahead of the rioting, but another bar near Union Station welcomed them.

Not every downtown business closed. Some workers expressed concerns for their own safety given that violence was anticipated on Wednesday. The union representing hotel workers, Unite Here Local 25, requested that their employees be evacuated once rioting began. “Evacuations are already underway at a number of hotels,” the union stated via Twitter.

On Wednesday afternoon, an employee of Taberna del Alabardero, located a few blocks west of the White House, said she was worried about how the day would unfold. Trump supporters, many maskless, had requested to sit inside the restaurant for lunch both Tuesday and Wednesday, she said. Once the employee told the group indoor dining was currently prohibited due to the coronavirus pandemic, they left. Trump supporters who agreed to eat outside complained when they were asked to put on their mask while not eating or drinking. Restaurant workers are having to enforce the mask mandate when MPD does not. 

Another person who works inside a downtown hotel was on edge the entire time he was on the clock Tuesday, when Trump supporters first descended on downtown. The last time Trump supporters were in town, in mid-December, he was attacked by a group of Trump supporters while getting a fresh air outside of his place of work. He had been encouraging Trump supporters to wear masks. Many had responded with homophobic slurs (the employee is a trans man) and eventually someone punched him in the face. The employee was grateful he did not have to work on Wednesday.

“If we do go to work, it’s like mentally—it’s scary,” he said. “It’s like people are scared.”