Congress was on break when Tom Williams, a photographer for CQ Roll Call, stepped out of the House chamber to file some shots of the vote to certify the election. Then he noticed something out a window facing east: a skirmish between dozens of cops and
The crowd seemed ready for a photo opportunity; democracy was under siege by a spectacle of costumes, body paint, and an unknown number of weapons. Some of the insurrectionists wore maga hats or camo-gear; they brandished flags for Trump and for the Confederacy; few wore masks. Williams headed out to find a good vantage point and saw people with bleary eyes—the rioters and the police had exchanged pepper spray, he later learned—and bloodstained faces. He captured some images of rioters shoving their way through a wall of police. Soon, an officer escorted Williams and a few other photographers to the third-floor gallery of the House chamber, then told them to lie low. He clenched his equipment. “I was trying to quickly and surreptitiously take pictures the whole time,” he said. “We were like, Holy shit.” A throng had entered the Capitol.