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US Capitol Hill Breached: Bombing, Assassination Attempt and Other Past Instances of Violence

Pro-Trump protester clash with US Capitol police. (Reuters)

Pro-Trump protester clash with US Capitol police. (Reuters)

The US Capitol Hill breach by Donald Trump supporters was the first in two centuries, but it has scene several instances of violence over the years.

The US Capitol Hill in Washington DC is the seat of the government of the most powerful country in the world. The area is much like our own Parliament area in Delhi houses the Capitol, the US Supreme Court, the US Senate and the House of Representatives.

The US Capitol has seen much violence and protests over the years, but was breached for the first time on Wednesday in two centuries.

Also read: Why Did Nobody Protect the US Capitol? Police Draw Severe Criticism for Attack by Pro-Trump Mob

As people of the US and it’s authorities are still trying to figure how such a huge breach could take place, here’s a look back at the major instances of violence the US Capitol Hill has seen.

British Forces Burn Capitol Hill in 1814

During the War of 1812, fought between the United States and Britain and Ireland — both sides had allies, British troops had breached the US Capitol and set fire to it. According to the ‘Art and History’ section of the United States Senate website, the president’s mansion and other local landmarks were also burnt.

It says, “The ensuing fire reduced all but one of the capital city's major public buildings to smoking rubble, and only a torrential rainstorm saved the Capitol from complete destruction. The blaze particularly devastated the Capitol's Senate wing, the oldest part of the building, which was honeycombed with vulnerable wooden floors and housed the valuable but combustible collection of books and manuscripts of the Library of Congress, then located in the Capitol building.”

President Andrew Jackson Escaped Assassination Bid in 1835

An unemployed man named Richard Lawrence attempted to shoot at then US president Andrew Jackson when he was leaving the funeral of South Carolina Representative Warren Davis at the House chamber of the Capitol building on January 30, 1835.

The Smithsonian Magazine says that Lawrence accosted Jackson as he was exiting the East Portico. While Lawrence fired from his Derringer pistol, the bullet failed to be discharged.

Bombing in the Senate Reception Room in 1915

A former professor of German at Harvard University, Erich Muenter, detonated three sticks of dynamite at the Senate Reception Room in the afternoon of July 2, 1915, leading up to the weekend of July 4, the American independence day.

According to the United States Senate website, when Meunter found the Senate Chamber locked, he went inside the Senate Reception Room and placed the package under the Senate's telephone switchboard.

The blast that resulted had wrecked the room, damaged phone booths and shattered windows.

Muenter wrote a letter to the Washington Evening Star saying he wanted to "make enough noise to be heard above the voices that clamor for war. This explosion is an exclamation point in my appeal for peace.” He is said to have been angry with American financiers aiding Britain against Germany in World War I.

Puerto Rican attack in 1954

Four Puerto Rican nationalists opened fire from a gallery in the House of Representatives demanding independence of Puerto Rico. PBS says that the protesters shouted “Freedom for Puerto Rico” and waved the Puerto Rican flag. The incident, where 30 rounds of shots were fired, left five members of the US Congress injured.

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Attempted Attack on 9/11 in 2001

While the two World Trade Centre buildings in New York City and Pentagon were the target of a terrorist attack in 2001, reports suggest that another plane, United Airlines Flight 93, was intended to be taken to the US Capitol by four Al Qaeda terrorists.

However, the plane never reached its intended target, because the passenger and cabin crew stormed the cockpit of the plane, which ultimately crashed in Sommerset, Pennsylvania.

Reports suggest that it was either headed for the White House or Capitol Hill. The New York Times quoted staff of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks as saying, “We are sure that the nation owes a debt to the passengers of United 93. Their actions saved the lives of countless others, and may have saved either the U.S. Capitol or the White House from destruction."

Black Woman Killed After Breaching Checkpoint in 2013

While the US Capitol Police has come under fire for the attack on Wednesday, it was also compared to an incident where a black woman was killed in Capitol Hill in 2013. Mirian Carey was killed after she tried to take a u-turn through a White House security checkpoint, and was chased to the Capitol Hill by US security officials where she was shot dead.

Carey was a dental hygienist. According to a CNN report says she was shot five times from behind, one of which hit her head. The woman’s child was inside the car with her.

Federal prosecutors in D.C. filed no charges against the officers involved in the incident. Huffpost had quoted an official statement at the time as saying, “After a careful, thorough and independent review of the evidence, federal prosecutors have found insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that these officers used excessive force under the circumstances known to them at the time or that they acted with the requisite criminal intent.” The incident had raised questions about police brutality in the US.


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