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Historian puts perspective into chaos at the nation's Capitol

Metro State Professor Dr. Shelby Balik said this type of violence happens more often than people might remember.

DENVER — The last time the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. was under attack before Wednesday was more than 60 years before Colorado was even a state, according to Dr. Shelby Balik.

"It was shocking to see, but it was not really a surprise," Balik said.

She teaches History at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Wednesday, she said she witnessed history as supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol Building angry over the certification of the November election. Balik said nothing like this has happened in a long time.

"The most notable breach of the Capitol was during the War of 1812," Balik said.

In 1814, the British Army burned the Capitol along with the rest of Washington 207 years ago. It was so long ago, Balik said here in Colorado there were not many if any European settlers in this area.

"Between the War of 1812 and yesterday, there was nothing massive," Balik said.

She said the Capitol Building has endured three minor bombings in 1915, 1969, and 1983. In 1954, four Puerto Rican Nationalists entered Congress with guns shooting and injuring five members. In those instances, Balik said no one was killed unlike Wednesday's incursion.

"Yes, this is a big deal. This is an act of mass violence. This is a riot inside Congress," Balik said.

However, Balik said this moment in history does not stand alone.

"It hasn't been a long time since people have tried to invalidate the results of an election," Balik said.

She said violence associated with voting rights has been happening for years from the Civil War to the denial of local elections in North Carolina after African-Americans started getting involved in politics.

"After an election in 1898, a White supremacist group that had been organized through rallies staged an assault on Wilmington and they staged a coup," Balik said.

She said that the Capitol invasion Wednesday is just the latest example.

"This is an act of violence in the halls of Congress meant to disrupt and destroy and it was on a day when the final step of our election process was supposed to take place," Balik said.

This is something that has never happened. Balik said she hopes this is the last time.

"50 years from now, I think it means a day that shook our democratic process," Balik said.

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