The Capitol building in Washington DC was put on lockdown Wednesday afternoon, after a flood of angry President Trump supporters entered the building to interrupt what in previous election cycles would have been an uncontroversial formality: Congress’ counting of electoral votes to confirm Joe Biden’s victory in the November presidential election.
Lawmakers were told to shelter in their offices as police clashed with protestors who had forced their way past barricades to enter the building’s legislative chamber. As the events unfolded, Brooklyn lawmakers, activists and residents reacted in real time on Twitter. Many, including Democratic Congressmembers Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke, cast blame on President Trump as they did so.
After being in the House chamber to certify the results of a fair and free election, I am now sheltering in place.
The President and every single Republican who incited and encouraged this behavior must denounce it immediately.
— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) January 6, 2021
This is domestic terrorism. Period, full stop.
We are in throngs of a coup because @realDonaldTrump refuses to respect the will of the American people.
The eyes of the world are on us right now. Democracy will prevail.
— Yvette D. Clarke (@RepYvetteClarke) January 6, 2021
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat who represents parts of north Brooklyn as well as sections of Manhattan and Queens, streamed a two-minute video from her DC office in which she described the unrest as “something that I read about and watch in foreign countries, but not in the great, democratic, election-respecting United States of America.”
My staff and I are safe and sheltering in place.
I am proud of America, to be a Member of the House of Representatives, but I am not proud of this. pic.twitter.com/JR7Spxidq2
— Carolyn B. Maloney (@RepMaloney) January 6, 2021
Newly-elected Republican Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, who in November defeated Max Rose in a conservative-leaning district that includes parts of southern Brooklyn as well as Staten Island, called the unrest “absolutely unacceptable and un-American.” Malliotakis is the sole Republican elected official in the borough.
But she faced criticism for having earlier joined a faction of Republican lawmakers who had sought to challenge the election results under the pretext of concerns about voter fraud. New York City Council Member Justin Brannan, a Democrat whose district overlaps with Malliotakis’, called the Congresswoman “complicit” in the violence.
I'm glad you are safe, but you are complicit. https://t.co/wp1SmbpcS4
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) January 6, 2021
Meanwhile, Brooklynites from across the borough reacted to the events unfolding in DC with frustration, confusion and fear.
“I’m worried about the safety of our lawmakers and future president,” said Annie Carmichael, a Bushwick resident. “I’m worried about the many people who share the same feelings of those who went to the protest in DC today and what they might do as well. I’m scared to ride the subway home tonight.”
State and local elected officials from around the borough, including Democratic State Senator Zellnor Myrie and Council Member Brad Lander, also reacted on Twitter, often with raw partisan anger.
Y’all don’t get to disassociate yourself from this. And by y’all I mean every single Republican that acquiesced to the political mainstreaming of white supremacy. This is you, not “them.”
— Senator Zellnor Y. Myrie 米维 (@zellnor4ny) January 6, 2021
This is a violent coup attempt, fomented by the President, fueled by white grievance, abetted by GOP leaders, to prevent the peaceful transition of power.
Our democracy must be defended, and people must be held accountable — for this violence and the politics behind it.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) January 6, 2021
Reactions from elected officials in southern Brooklyn, where support for Trump is more common, were more mixed. Council Member Chaim Deutsch, a Democrat that represents neighborhoods including Sheepshead Bay and Midwood, where the president won many election districts in November, made a more measured statement.
For 230 years, our country saw a peaceful transition of power – until today.
For the sake of the founding ideals of the USA, & for the sake of democracy itself, this violence must end.
Violence is never the answer to political disagreements, whether it’s on the right or left.
— Councilman Deutsch (@ChaimDeutsch) January 6, 2021
As of 5:00pm on Wednesday, multiple hours after the unrest in DC began, several southern Brooklyn lawmakers who are Democrats but represent more conservative districts, including Council Members Kalman Yeger, Mark Treyger and Alan Maisel, Assembly Members Peter Abbate, William Colton, Steven Cymbrowitz, Helene Weinstein, Simcha Eichenstein and State Senator Simcha Felder, had not spoken or issued statements.
There were exceptions to that rule, however; Democratic State Senator Andrew Gounardes was unequivocal in his criticism of the protests. And State Senator Diane Savino, also a Democrat, said President Trump was “gaslighting us after he poured the gasoline on the fire” after the president called for peaceful protests while simultaneously repeating his unfounded claim that “the election was stolen.”
Shaken to the core and disgusted.
This terrorist attack on American democracy is an attempted coup stoked by an unhinged & extreme far-right Republican Party.
Elected officials who encouraged, supported, or helped instigate this subversion of democracy are unfit for office.
— Andrew Gounardes (@agounardes) January 6, 2021
President Trump is actually gaslighting us after he poured the gasoline on the fire. https://t.co/Lqbdm8CZaO
— Senator Diane Savino (@dianesavino) January 6, 2021
The Brooklyn Republican Party had not issued a statement as of early evening Wednesday. But a breakaway group of young members known as the Brooklyn Young Republicans Club, which was de-chartered by its parent party in August amidst disagreements over support for Trump, called the protests “terroristic and seditious acts.”
Our thoughts and prayers to the many law enforcement officials dealing with terroristic and seditious acts.
— Brooklyn Young Republican Club (@BrooklynYR) January 6, 2021
The Brooklyn Republican Youth Initiative, which the county party created after de-chartering its original youth arm, retweeted a statement from state GOP chairman Nick Langworthy that described the protests as “violent, lawless and disgraceful behavior.”
This is not what America or the Republican Party stands for. Our Capitol is a sacred symbol of our great nation. This violent, lawless and disgraceful behavior must end! Respect law and order and our police officers. Stop this mayhem now!
— Nick Langworthy (@NickLangworthy) January 6, 2021
But some GOP operatives felt differently. Bob Capano, a Republican commentator and former City Council candidate, retweeted a conspiracy theory that the protesters were actually disguised members of the left-wing movement Antifa. The pro-Trump City Council candidate Heshy Tischler, who over the summer instigated protests against coronavirus mask mandates in Borough Park, also dismissed criticism of the protesters in DC.
When the extreme right is upset at the government they protest the government.
When the extreme left is mad at the government they burn your shops, your stores, your streets and your property.#CapitolBuilding #WashingtonDC
— ⓘ Disputed Heshy (@HeshyTischler) January 6, 2021
Still other elected officials, including newly-elected Democratic Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, called for counter-protests in the borough’s public spaces.
North Brooklyn: if you're feeling powerless, enraged or afraid in the face of the white supremacy, violent masculinity and outright fascism playing out in our nation's capitol, folks will be gathering at the McCarren Park ballfield tonight at 7pm—for the 233rd consecutive night.
— Assemblymember Emily Gallagher (@EmilyAssembly) January 6, 2021