A mob of thousands of pro-Trump rioters breached the Capitol during the confirmation of electoral college votes on Wednesday, putting a hold to the process to confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory for several hours.
The House was evacuated as numerous politicians and staff members were forced to barricade themselves in offices to hide from the rioters, some of whom were carrying guns and other weapons.
The rioters breached the Capitol after attending a rally from Mr Trump, where he incited the insurrection with a speech, saying: “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol” and adding: “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
As the events were captured in the Capitol on Wednesday, a picture taken by photographer Mike Theiler circulated on social media, which showed a rioter carrying a Confederate flag through the halls.
Follow the very latest on the Capitol riots in our liveblog.
Stanford professor Sam Wineburg noted in a post on Twitter that the image was the first time in US history that a Confederate flag had been publicly carried in the halls of the Capitol.
During the four years of the Civil War, the confederates never got closer to Washington than Fort Stevens. Until today, when insurrectionist supporters of @realDonaldTrump paraded through the U.S. Capitol Building carrying the Confederate battle flag. pic.twitter.com/mPye0ziVlj
— Jordan Fischer (@JordanOnRecord) January 6, 2021
Images shared by The Washington Post reporter Rebecca Tan also showed a Confederate flag being raised outside the Capitol by a number of rioters, as several other people were seen carrying the flags.
Although the Confederate flag was first used during the US Civil War for the pro-slavery southern states, it regained popularity in the 20th century as a racist symbol of resistance to racial equality and integration.
Several monuments to Confederacy figures, alongside Confederate flags, were taken down last year following protests against racial inequality, as its ties to slavery and racism were re-examined.
Although a YouGov poll from 2020 found that for 41 per cent of Americans the Confederate flag represents racism, Mr Trump has defended people’s right to fly it and told Fox News Sunday in June 2020 that it is a source of pride for those who love the US south.
The Confederate flag was not the only symbol of racism on display during the riot on Wednesday, as one man was pictured wearing a hoodie with “Camp Auschwitz” emblazoned on it, while groups hung nooses outside of the Capitol.
A rioter today wore a hoodie that says Camp Auschwitz on it. When Jewish people tell you they fear for their life, start believing them. pic.twitter.com/ejj5a1Ev2z
— Olivia Fletcher (@livfletcher_) January 6, 2021
The hoodie was in reference to the concentration camp operated in Nazi-Germany during World War II, where more than one million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust.
The hoodie also had the phrase “Work brings freedom” emblazoned on it, in reference to “Arbeit Macht Frei”, which was written on the gates to Auschwitz.
At least two nooses were also hung outside the Capitol during the riots, as cords stolen from journalists covering the insurrection were made into a makeshift noose.
Violence against the press was advocated for by rioters, as “murder the media” was written on a door inside the Capitol, according to Buzzfeed News.
Four people died during the riots on Wednesday, and several police officers were injured by members of the pro-Trump mob. Several US representatives have called for Mr Trump to be impeached in the wake of the riots.
The last time the US Capitol was breached to the scale of Wednesday was back in 1814, during wartime.