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What I Saw Inside the Capitol Riot

“This is our America.”

When Donald Trump told gathered supporters in D.C. Wednesday afternoon that “we’re going to walk down Pennsylvania Avenue, and we’re going to the Capitol,” they didn’t wait. They started to march right away.

Even as Trump continued to speak, I watched them begin to peel off, first a few, and then hundreds. One guy looked at me taking photographs and said, “It’s almost over. We have to get to the Capitol!”

They moved quickly. The mood had been lighter earlier in the day, like a Trump-themed Comic-Con. But it darkened fast. Under banners like “GOD, GUNS, GUTS & GLORY,” protesters—I was still thinking of them as protesters, not rioters, at that point—screamed at counterprotesters along the side of the street, calling them “cheaters” and breaking into a steady, robotic chant of “TRUMP WON! TRUMP WON!”

As we got closer to the Capitol steps, there was some excitement: Fellow marchers had breached the building, people said. I wasn’t sure what that meant. As we got closer, though, I saw these marchers ripping open doors and climbing through windows. When I got to the doors, police had managed to close them again. There was a core group of young people at the very front, just outside, trying to force their way in.

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