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The stories behind the most striking images of the Capitol riot

The stories behind the most striking images of the Capitol riot
A horned ‘shaman,’ a brave Capitol Police officer, and a fleeing Mitt Romney were among the most indelible images of the attempted coup, writes Nathan Place

A year ago this week, a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the United States Capitol as Congress voted to certify Joe Biden’s election victory.

It was unique in modern US history. Five people died, Congress went into hiding, and the country briefly teetered on the edge of a coup d’etat.

Over the course of the attack and its aftermath, a few viral images became seared in the national memory. Here are some of them.

‘Qanon Shaman’ roars in triumph

Jacob Chansley screams ‘Freedom’ inside the Senate chamber on 6 January, 2021

A number of the rioters wore strange outfits, but few looked as bizarre as Jacob Chansley. The out-of-work actor, 34, infamously donned an animal headdress, horns, and red-white-and-blue face paint as he marauded through the Senate chamber. Readers quickly dubbed him the “QAnon Shaman,” in homage to the conspiracy theory espoused by many of the rioters.

As photos of Chansley spread across the internet, one stood out from the rest: a closeup of the horned rioter screaming “Freedom!” taken by Getty photographer Win McNamee.

Chansley was eventually arrested and convicted of obstructing a congressional proceeding, and was sentenced to 41 months in prison.

Prosecutors described him as “the public face of the Capitol riot.”

Heroic officer diverts mob away from Congress

Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman cleverly led a mob of intruders away from the Senate chamber, which had not yet been sealed

One rare bit of inspiring imagery to emerge from the insurrection was a video of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman, who bravely diverted a mob away from Congress.

The video, captured by HuffPost reporter Igor Bobic, shows Mr Goodman glancing at the entrance to the Senate chamber as a crowd of intruders chases him up some stairs.

As the officer appears to retreat, he cleverly baits the man leading the mob – occasionally pushing him – into following him instead of entering the senate, which had not yet been sealed off to protect lawmakers. Eventually, he leads them to an area with more police officers.

Mr Goodman was later awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his actions.

Congressman comforts terrified colleagues

Rep. Jason Crow, D-Colo., comforts Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., while taking cover as protesters disrupt the joint session of Congress to certify the Electoral College vote

Another viral image was of Rep Jason Crow, a Democrat from Colorado, comforting a fellow lawmaker as the rioters closed in.

In the now-famous photo by AP photographer Tom Williams, Susan Wild of Pennsylvania can be seen lying on the floor in a state of terror.

“Right after we were told to get down, I started hearing shots and breaking glass and didn’t really know what was going on, except that it was terrifying,” Ms Wild later told The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mr Crow, a veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, gave her his hand.

“I got into ranger mode a little bit,” Mr Crow, a former Army Ranger, told The Denver Post. “I wasn’t going to leave the House floor until every member was gone, so I waited until we were able to get everybody out.”

Officer Goodman leads Mitt Romney to safety

Mitt Romney (right) is urged by Officer Eugene Goodman to run as rioters get closer

A second video of Officer Goodman shows him in another act of heroism: leading Senator Mitt Romney away from the violent mob, just minutes before it arrived where he was standing.

In the surveillance footage, Mr Romney is seen walking toward the rioters, apparently oblivious, as Mr Goodman runs toward him from the other direction. As he passes, Mr Goodman taps the senator on the shoulder and alerts him to the approaching intruders. Mr Romney then turns around and begins to run as well.

“I was very fortunate indeed that officer Goodman was there to get me in the right direction,” Mr Romney later told reporters.

Congressman cleans up debris

Rep Andy Kim, D-NJ, cleans up debris and trash on the morning of 7 Janurary, 2021, after rioters stormed the Capitol

Perhaps the most poignant image of the riot’s aftermath is of a single congressman kneeling on the rotunda’s floor, picking up garbage.

On the morning after the riot, Congress returned to the Capitol to find it in shambles. Shocking images showed furniture and windows broken, water bottles littering the ground, offices vandalised, and flags dumped in the dustbins. As workers picked up the debris, Rep Andy Kim of New Jersey decided to join them – and AP photographer Andrew Harnik snapped a picture.

“When you see something you love that’s broken you want to fix it,” Mr Kim later told the Associated Press. “I love the Capitol. I’m honoured to be there.”

Like many Americans, Mr Kim felt horrified by the desecration of the temple of democracy.

“This building is extraordinary and the rotunda in particular is just awe-inspiring,” Mr Kim said. “How many countless generations have been inspired in that room? It really broke my heart and I just felt compelled to do something … What else could I do?”