Breaking the News on the Capitol Hill Crisis

Guy Walker
. 4 min read
WatchKeeper alerted clients to the storming of the Capitol building minutes ahead of major news outlets.
January 6th proved a historic day for the United States. Hundreds of Trump supporters overpowered police barricades and gained entry into the US Capitol building in an attempt to disrupt the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s electoral victory. At least 82 people have been arrested, over 50 injured and five people killed.
What started as a pro-Trump “Save America March” near the White House, later descended into violence. A city-wide curfew was announced to start at 18:00 and Capitol Police began using tear gas and pepper spray, but were soon overwhelmed by the rioters who gained access into the Capitol building.
Those inside − legislators, the Vice President, Congressional staff and reporters − were evacuated, while others were forced to take shelter. It was the first breach of the building since 1814, when British troops attacked Washington DC.
President Donald Trump received considerable criticism for his initial encouragement of the protesters. A number of his social media posts were removed by Twitter and Facebook for breaching their guidelines. Subsequently, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey both announced they would ban President Trump from their platforms.
After hours of rioting, which saw windows smashed, offices damaged, and artefacts looted, police regained control of the building at around 17:40 local time. The joint congressional session was later resumed and Joe Biden’s election victory was finally confirmed at 03:41. Vice President Mike Pence declared the incident a “dark day in the history of the United States Capitol”.
Alerts Ahead of the News
In partnership with our market-leading risk vendors, WatchKeeper alerted clients on all the major events of Wednesday’s crisis. Alerts were sent upon the discovery of pipe bombs near the RNC and DNC headquarters, when police barriers were overwhelmed, when Capitol Hill was breached, and when the first casualty was reported, among other major events.
WatchKeeper generated both in-app and email alerts minutes before any other major news organisation reported the incidents. Our platform instantly filtered client’s assets, people and travellers that were in close proximity to Capitol Hill. This allowed users to quickly take action and make any necessary communications to ensure their assets and personnel in Washington DC were aware and safe during the violence and disruption.
Staying vigilant ahead of Biden’s inauguration
Following the storming of the Capitol on January 6th, the FBI has issued security warnings for all state capitals between January 16th and Joe Biden’s inauguration day on January 20th.
According to an internal FBI bulletin, the agency has reportedly identified groups that are calling for the storming of courthouses across the country. They are expecting armed protest across all 50 states.
In light of this memo and recent events, extra security precautions have been put in place for the days ahead. Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser has urged people to stay at home on inauguration day and participate virtually instead. Additionally the National Guard has announced that it plans to deploy up to 15,000 troops across Washington DC, a move that was authorised by the Department of Defence.
Despite the bolstered security plans, some concerns do remain. The acting head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Chad Wolf resigned on January 11th, only hours after announcing that security preparations for the inauguration would be moved forward by six days.
Prior to his resignation he announced, “In light of events of the past week and the evolving security landscape … I have instructed the U.S. Secret Service to begin the National Special Security Event operations for the 2021 Inauguration effective Wednesday, January 13th instead of January 19th”.
Some are concerned that Wolf’s resignation could throw his former department into turmoil at a time of particular importance for national security.
Protecting your organisation
For organisations wishing to find out more about WatchKeeper’s new critical event management platform, and how it can protect your organisation from natural disasters or violent incidents, please visit https://watchkeeper.com or email info@watchkeeper.com.
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