Photos of hundreds of National Guard members sleeping on Capitol floors circulated social media on Wednesday (Jan. 13), underscoring the maximum level of security that has been stationed in the building after last week’s riot.
CBS News writes that around 2,000 guardsmen reported to the Capitol this morning ahead of Donald Trump’s impeachment hearing. BuzzFeed News reporter Paul McLeod put the numbers closer to 3,000 and added that the troops had to shelter in the building overnight because they had nowhere else to go.
Following Trump supporters’ insurrection and attack on the Capitol last week, the U.S. Department of Defense has declared the area to be at a “very high” risk — even “higher than has been reported” in the news.
To defend against the threat, National Guard members will be stationed in the Capitol around the clock, especially as President-Elect Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day grows nearer. Photos of the guardsmen showed them sleeping in hallways, staircases or any free spot that they could find, and often with their weapons close to them.
Six people, including two Capitol Police officers, were killed during the Jan. 6 attack, but House Democrats have since come forward to reveal that the horrific siege could have been even deadlier. On Tuesday (Jan. 12), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recalled having a “close encounter” with one of the pro-Trump rioters, which she said made her fear for her life.
“I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive,” she said. “Not just in a general sense, but also in a very, very specific sense.”
Ocasio-Cortez further called the attack “an extremely traumatizing event” and said “it is not an exaggeration to say that many, many members of the House were nearly assassinated.”
Sarah Groh — Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s chief of staff — said that all of their office’s panic buttons had been “torn out” before the riot.
“Every panic button in my office had been torn out — the whole unit,” she told The Boston Globe.
Police have also revealed that some rioters took zip-ties with them into the Capitol, and another insurrectionist had allegedly planned to kill Nancy Pelosi.
Biden’s inauguration, which will be held on Jan. 20, is set to be heavily protected. Up to 15,000 National Guard members will be stationed, which means there will be more U.S. troops in Washington, D.C. than in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
See photos of the guardsmen below.