Congressman Mo Brooks told a rally of President Donald Trump's supporters several hours before the U.S. Capitol was overrun Wednesday that the time had arrived for physical action.
"Today is the day American patriots start taking down names and kicking ass,” Brooks, a Huntsville Republican, said during a morning rally on the National Mall.
A video of the comment posted on Twitter showed Brooks wearing a red baseball cap with "Fire Pelosi" embroidered on its front in reference to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat. Associated Press photos show he also wore a camouflage hat during his speech.
Brooks and other members of Alabama’s congressional delegation were safe and accounted for after the Capitol chaos. Several congressmen made statements and documented their experiences via social media.
After the Capitol was breached, Brooks tweeted several times from the House floor as Capitol Police locked the building down and evacuated lawmakers and staff.
"Tear gas dispersed in Capitol Rotunda. Congressmen ordered to grab gas masks under chairs in case have to leave in haste!" he tweeted.
After order had been restored, Brooks said he hoped everyone who illegally breached the Capitol is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, noting that he himself had been shot at when a gunman opened fire at a congressional baseball game practice in 2015.
“Senseless,” he said. “Achieves nothing productive.”
Republican Richard Shelby, Alabama's senior senator and one of the highest ranking lawmakers in Congress, called it "a very dark day" for the country.
“I am safe thanks to the protection and swift action by our law enforcement officials,” Shelby said Wednesday afternoon on Twitter. “Our Founding Fathers warned against mob rule. Law and order must be established and maintained."
Shelby was the only Republican in Alabama's congressional delegation not to support challenging Electoral College votes from certain states lost by Trump in November.
Brooks, whose U.S. House district includes Morgan and Limestone counties, led those efforts in recent weeks.
Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Selma, was initially locked inside the House Chamber during the breach.
“Praying that this chaos dissipates and no one gets hurt,” she said. “… I am sheltering in a safe location and praying for the safety of our nation, members of Congress, congressional staff, law enforcement, and Capitol Hill residents.”
Rep. Jerry Carl, a Republican from Mobile in his first week as a U.S. congressman, said Americans have the right to protest, but violence is never the answer.
“I’m praying for the safety of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the law enforcement protecting us,” Carl said on Twitter.
Rep. Barry Moore, R-Enterprise, said in a statement that he condemns the violence at the Capitol.
“Lawlessness and anarchy are never the answer,” Moore said. “We are — and always will be — a nation of law and order. While I support Americans’ First Amendment rights, I strongly condemn any and all violence and fully support our brave Capitol Police and LEOs.”
Moore had made comments contesting the results of the presidential election and was planning to vote against certifying the vote on Wednesday.
Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Haleyville, asked for prayers for the country on Twitter.
“God has brought this nation through many dark days over the past 240 plus years,” Aderholt said. “We have always been able to settle our disputes peaceably. I believe He will continue to guide and protect this nation. However, as a nation we need to seek His guidance in peace. He is in full control!”
Staff members for U.S. Reps. Gary Palmer, R-Birmingham, and Mike Rogers, R-Saks, confirmed that the congressmen were safe and all staff were accounted for, but had no further comment as of press time.
Efforts to get a response from newly-elected Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Auburn, were unsuccessful.
State Rep. Chris England, chairman of the Alabama Democratic Party, blamed the riot on Trump and his supporters in Congress, including the Alabama delegation.
“Today, during a joint session of Congress to fulfill the legal obligation to count the votes of the Electoral College, a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol building. This mob was encouraged by President Donald Trump, Rep. Mo Brooks, and others at a rally before they breached the doors of the Capitol. They disrupted the peaceful transfer of power, broke the law, and must be prosecuted for their sedition," England said in a statement.
Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said Wednesday her party strongly condemns any violence and unlawful actions.