WASHINGTON — In the hours before the pro-President Trump supporters broke through police barricades and stormed the U.S. Capitol, they received a show of support from a U.S. senator from Missouri.
Josh Hawley, the state’s junior Republican senator, greeted protesters outside the Capitol. His arm was raised and his fist was clenched.
5 On Your Side spoke with the photographer who captured the image, which has now been shared around the world. We asked him to describe the exchange between Sen. Hawley and the crowd.
“He's acknowledging the crowd and giving various gestures, such as, you know, fist pumps, waves, thumbs up, shows of solidarity and support, I guess you could call it. And the crowd was also reacting back to him in a favorable fashion. And, you know, had probably got as animated as I'd seen at that point,” described Francis Chung, who works for E&E News, which focuses on energy and the environment.
Chung said he took the photo at 12:35 p.m. and that the crowd quieted down after the exchange. At about 2 p.m., things changed.
What started as a rally outside the Capitol turned into a riot. Angry Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in a chaotic riot aimed at thwarting a peaceful transfer of power, forcing lawmakers to be rushed from the building and interrupting challenges to Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. By 2:30, the Capitol was on lockdown.
Chung followed the Trump supporters as they made their way inside the building. He described those first chaotic moments.
“People were running pretty rampant through the Rotunda, near Speaker Pelosi’s office, Statuary Hall. And then someone yelled out, ‘Let’s go to the House,’” Chung recalled.
The photographer, worried for his own safety, left after a few minutes inside.
At 3:30 p.m., Hawley issued the following statement on Twitter.
“Thank you to the brave law enforcement officials who have put their lives on the line. The violence must end, those who attacked police and broke the law must be prosecuted, and Congress must get back to work and finish its job.”
Congress did get back to work Wednesday night. The joint session reconvened to finish voting on the Electoral College results – and Hawley stood firm in his plans to object to the certification of votes in some states, echoing Trump’s unfounded claims of election fraud in November.
Hawley objected to the certification of votes in Arizona Wednesday afternoon before the mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol building and objected again when senators returned to the floor Wednesday night.
Hawley condemned the violence that interrupted the debate earlier in the day and said that was why he would continue his objection.
"There is no place for [violence] in the United States of America, and that's why I submit to my colleagues that what we are doing tonight is actually very important," he said from the Senate floor. "Because for those who have concerns about the integrity of our elections, those who have concerns about what happened in November, this is the appropriate means, this is the lawful place where those objections and concerns should be heard."
Hawley also signed onto the objection of the Pennsylvania Electoral College certification. The objections in both states were rejected after votes in the House and Senate.
The Electoral College vote was certified just after 2:30 Thursday morning, with Congress confirming President-elect Joe Biden's victory. The final count is 306-232.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photos: Trump supporters storm US capitol during Electoral College affirmation