WASHINGTON — Spokespersons for Newton County's two U.S. House members say each were safe Wednesday, Jan. 6, inside the U.S. Capitol after some of hundreds of protestors President Donald Trump urged to march to the Capitol breached security lines and entered the building.
The protestors, some reportedly armed, could be seen walking through the Capitol building with pro-Trump and Confederate flags as they entered offices and tried to force their way into parts of the building.
The action interrupted House and Senate debate during the counting of electoral votes and forced members' evacuation.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, was preparing to debate those who objected to the counting of Georgia's votes when he and others were forced to evacuate the chamber, said district spokesman Andy Phelan.
At about 4:15 p.m., Johnson wrote on Twitter: "Harrowing moments inside the US Capitol!!! Hats off to the Capitol Hill Police protecting us. We are safe and secure. Pray for our nation."
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Greensboro., who planned to object to the Georgia count, was safe “with security and other members,” a spokeswoman told the Walton Tribune newspaper.
Hice retweeted a 3 p.m. tweet by the House Freedom Caucus, of which Hice is a member.
"There is a difference between peaceful protests and mob violence. We unequivocally condemn the violence going on in Capitol building right now. This must end and must end NOW. Thank God for the Capitol Police and for our law enforcement personnel."
Photos of Capitol Police with their guns drawn against protestors who were vandalizing the locked doors of one legislative chamber were spread across social media.
Members of Congress inside the House chamber were being told to don gas masks after tear gas was dispersed inside the Capitol rotunda.
The actions followed the opening of House debate on approving the Electoral College certification of the Nov. 3 vote for president in which Joe Biden defeated Trump.
Afterward, Johnson referred to a 2019 speech he made to the Atlanta NAACP in a tweet. The speech compared the president to Adolph Hitler when Johnson said Trump was elected because of a resurgence of bigotry in the U.S.
"Chaos and confusion ruled the day ...was what I said in a speech I delivered on Jan. 1, 2019, and was deluged with an avalanche of hateful mail, calls, and social media posts. No need to say more. Heed my words America!"