A group of rioters attempted to replace the American flag with a President Donald Trump flag on Wednesday after breaching the U.S. Capitol in a situation that almost immediately became violent.
Footage taken after a large mob entered the building showed a group standing on scaffolding outside of a Capitol window, ripping down an American flag and dropping it several stories to the ground before attempting to replace it with a Trump-branded flag.
The Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday amid a meeting to ratify the Electoral College votes to certify Joe Biden as the next president.
Trump has cast himself as something of a protector of the stars and stripes — often theatrically embracing and kissing American flags at events — and previously tweeted that those who burn the flag should have their citizenship revoked or spend time in jail.
Yet he and his supporters have shown their reverence for the flag in seemingly hypocritical ways, often hanging it alongside flags with Trump's own name on it — like the one used Wednesday — or manipulating it into a pro-law enforcement version, as a means of defying the Black Lives Matter movement.
Within the Capitol, rioters could also be seen holding a large Confederate flag, a symbol often associated with the white supremacist movement and originally created when 11 states seceded from the union following the election of Abraham Lincoln.
Trump and his supporters have also been extremely critical of those who peacefully kneel during the national anthem, claiming it is disrespectful of the flag.
Speaking to Alabama supporters during a 2017 rally, Trump said: "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag to say, 'get that son of a b**** off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired."
When it came time to denounce the rioters who violently breached the Capitol, though, Trump took a much more sympathetic tone, urging them to go home but saying that he loved them and that they were "very special" in a video posted to Twitter.
Trump's comments — which included several of the same unfounded claims about election fraud that he had made to his supporters before they forced their way into the Capitol — came after reports surfaced that a woman was shot within the building.