‘A Shameful Assault’: Bay Area Leaders React to Rioting in the Nation's Capital

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A mob of pro-Trump extremists break into the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 06, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Calling it "an attempted coup" and an act of "domestic terrorism," Bay Area elected officials were quick to vehemently denounce the actions of extremist supporters of President Trump, who violently broke into the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday in an unprecedented effort to overturn the results of the presidential election.

In a statement released late Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi condemned the insurrection as a "shameful assault" on American democracy that had been "anointed at the highest level of government." After hours in lockdown before officials declared the Capitol secure, Congress reconvened Wednesday night to finish certifying the Electoral College results and validate Joe Biden's election.

"The night may still be long," Pelosi said, "but our purpose will be accomplished."

A growing number of Democratic members of Congress, including Bay Area Reps. Jackie Speier and Mike Thompson, urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office, with just two weeks remaining in his term.

"This domestic terrorist group that was incited by the president of the United States cannot be tolerated," Speier told KCBS. "I am one that believes the 25th Amendment should be exercised. We should take the power away from President Trump over the next 14 days."

Thompson called it a "disgusting insurrection, one that Trump was "directly responsible" for. Everyone involved, including the president, should be held accountable, he added.

"[It was] people just embarrassingly showing their allegiance to a president who has failed the country," he said. "This is a terrible place we are right now."

Silicon Valley Congresswoman Anna Eshoo called it "the saddest day of my life."

She joined a growing chorus of officials who demanded that the perpetrators — including Trump himself — be held accountable.

"Every American should understand at once how precious democracy is and how fragile it is. There are traitors under the dome of the United State Capitol because they are accomplices to this," she said, referring to the dozens of GOP members of Congress who planned to challenge Electoral College vote results without evidence of the kind of widespread voter fraud Trump continues to baselessly claim took place.


East Bay Congressman Mark DeSaulnier described the unrest as “surreal and sad," calling Trump "the number one mobster who could have prevented this and instead incited it."

"What he did today was unconscionable and he’s done a lot of those things," DeSaulnier said. "He can’t claim innocence in my view. He’s the person who created this. He should resign immediately."

Other local officials suggested the possibility of complicity — or complete incompetence — on the part of the U.S. Capitol Police, who failed to prevent rioters from easily breaking into the building and threatening the safety of members of Congress.

"The only reason [that police force] exists is to keep members of Congress safe and to keep that building functional, said Democratic state Sen. Scott Wiener of San Francisco. "They don’t exist for any other reason. And what, they put just a few random cops out there to, like, say, 'pretty please don’t storm the building with guns' because they didn’t go through security and they literally have guns out and they’re all swarming? I mean, there has to be a huge reckoning on the Capitol Police on this."

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In Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom canceled his COVID-19 news conference out of “an abundance of caution," after hundreds of pro-Trump protesters gathered outside the state Capitol, although no major incidents or attempts to access the building were reported.

"Peaceful protest is an important mechanism of our democracy but what we are witnessing in our nation's Capitol building is reprehensible and an outright assault to our democracy and Democratic institutions," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, mayors of major Bay Area cities on Wednesday did not hold back in expressing their outrage and disbelief at the chaos unfolding in the nation's capital, as rioters forced their way into the Capitol chambers, vandalizing the building and forcing members of Congress, journalists and staff to evacuate.

"This is an attempted coup encouraged by the President of the United States,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed wrote in a tweet. “It’s a dark day for our democracy, and the culmination of all of his anti-democratic words and actions from his campaign through his presidency.”

Breed also offered sharp words in response to the video message Trump released later in the day, in which he told rioters to go home while simultaneously praising them and reiterating false claims about election fraud.

"That's not a strong statement," she said. "Get your ass out there and do what you're supposed to do, which you took an oath to do in the first place."

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf called it an act of "terrorism."

"This is chaos and violence incited by Trump's continuous assault on our democracy,” she tweeted. “Ultimately our country will withstand this moment, and then we must hold the perpetrators accountable.”

And San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, in a tweet, said President Trump should be tried for sedition "for this atrocious, sickening display in our Capitol Building."

KQED's Guy Marzorati and April Dembosky contributed to this post.