The eyes of the nation were fixated Wednesday on Washington, D.C., as agitators who appeared to be supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building.
Lawmakers, including those from the Philadelphia area, checked in safe on social media while being evacuated to a different part of the Capitol complex.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives were told to grab gas masks as officers trained their guns at the door of the chamber, according to Reuters.
“I wanted to let you know that I am safe,” U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, who represents Delaware County and parts of South Philadelphia, wrote on Twitter. “My heart is broken for our country.”
Legislators were gathered to certify the results of November’s presidential election, a typically ho-hum affair made controversial by Republicans in the House and Senate who planned to object to vote tallies in several swing states, including Pennsylvania.
Those proceedings were delayed, and it’s unclear if they would be resumed Wednesday evening.
Pro-Trump demonstrators had gathered outside, and the president himself addressed the crowd earlier in the day. He has maintained, without evidence, that the election was tainted by widespread fraud.
Video showed the protesters breaking windows to access the Capitol Building.
“I served this country in both the Air Force and now in Congress,” U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan said on social media. “People give their lives so that we can live in a peaceful and free society with a peaceful transition of power.”
“Today’s violent actions at the Capitol are the antithesis of who we are as a country,” added Houlahan, a Democrat whose district is based in Chester County.
Another lawmaker on-hand, GOP Sen. Pat Toomey, who has opposed the effort to block President-Elect Joe Biden’s certification, called the situation “an absolute disgrace.”
Gov. Tom Wolf referred to the break-in as an “attempted coup,” as did New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, who labeled it “one of the darkest days in American history.”
“Republicans from Pres. Trump to PA legislative leaders need to stop the disinformation and tell their supporters the truth before there’s further violence,” Wolf wrote on Twitter.
Eight of the state’s nine GOP members of the House have vowed to object to Pennsylvania’s election results.
“We are witnessing an insurrection incited by (President Donald Trump), who threatens the foundations of our democracy,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “He and all who stirred this violence and sedition must be held accountable.”
State Rep. Kevin Boyle, a Northeast Philadelphia Democrat, said on Twitter that the military “must immediately CRUSH this takeover of the US Capitol by Trump supporters.” His brother, Brendan, is a Congressman from Philadelphia.
“Could you imagine the reaction by military & police that would have already happened if these were BLM supporters at the US Capitol!?” Kevin Boyle added.
Many drew comparisons between the treatment of the mostly-white pro-Trump brigade with the handling of the racially-diverse protesters who took to the streets this past summer following the death of George Floyd.
“A sniper would have taken my black ass out the moment I entered the Capitol,” Kevin Harden Jr., a prominent local attorney, wrote on social media.