US Capitol has never seen chaos quite like this, local expert says

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wednesday’s violence at the nation’s Capitol will go down in history books.

Rebecca Best, associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said there have been violent attacks on the Capitol in the past but not quite like this.

“In 1814, in the context of the War of 1812, the British — and notably not Americans — attacked the Capitol building,” Best said. “In 1954, four Puerto Rican nationalists, so Americans but only four of them, fired guns from the viewing gallery onto the floor of the House of Representatives.”

This time, crowds of rioters pushed their way past Capitol Police into Senate chambers and lawmakers’ offices, forcing Congress members and staff to shelter in place. The violence paused the election certification for several hours.

“I think if we saw Black Lives Matter taking over the Capitol building in the way that the Trump supporters have done today, the response would have been more violent,” Best said.

Best said Wednesday’s events are a reminder of the threat from extreme groups.

“We look at the data on domestic terrorism, what we have typically seen a lot more of is white supremacist terrorism in the United States,” Best said. “But we often do not see those incidents reported on or called terrorism.”

Best said despite the attempted coup, the Constitution protects the American democracy, and she believes Congress will continue to certify the election with President-elect Joe Biden as the winner.

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