Fact check: Photo shows U.S. Capitol cleanup after rioters left American flag among debris – USA TODAY

The Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol mob left quite the mess in its wake for the American people, legislators and the building’s employees to clean up. In the aftermath, a viral meme with a photo of the cleanup is misleading social media users.
“As they clean up the capitol, they ball up the flag and throw it away like trash,” reads an image circulating on Facebook. “No better depiction of the transition of power then what’s shown here. Pathetic…. I don’t like to brag But we’re kinda proud of that ragged old flag.” 
The image shows an American flag in a trash can as workers clean the Capitol.
Social media users have shared the image several times in the weeks following the Capitol attack. A Jan. 23 Facebook post the image received more than 900 reactions, 700 comments and 48,000 shares.
More:Fact check: Lincoln watched baseball games in front of White House, but image in meme is from 1945
None of the Facebook users USA TODAY reached out to about the image have responded.
Photojournalist Ken Cedeno took the photo on Jan. 7 in the Rayburn Reception Room of the U.S. Capitol building. 
“A dumpster is filled with items left behind from Trump mobs as workers vacuum the floor in the Rayburn room of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on Wednesday, January 7, 2021,” reads the image description on stock photography website Alamy. 
Cedeno did not respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.
Laura Condeluci, a public affairs specialist at Architect of the Capitol, told USA TODAY in an email that items from the Jan. 6 breach were turned over to law enforcement.
“Many items related to the Capitol breach were collected and turned over to the Department of Justice,” she wrote.
Condeluci did not specify whether the flag in the image was being collected for the Department of Justice or for disposal.
More:Fact check: Declaration that Senate cannot convict an ex-president lacks context
The Jan. 6 breach left the historic building littered and damaged, with broken glass, debris, pro-Trump gear and flags inside the Capitol after the attack. Participants smeared blood and feces around the building as well.
On the Architect of the Capitol’s website, employee Ricardo Mitchell described the damage workers cleaned up after police cleared the Capitol.
“Once they got everything under control, we had to come back in the building and clean up the mess, because the Members were going to return to finish voting,” he said. “We had to go into the chambers and prepare them so they would be able to come back.”
Mitchell said rioters left behind masks, broken glass and furniture. He added that his team had to stay and work extra hours to repair the building. 
The attack left some interior, historic doors damaged beyond repair.
The Architect of the Capitol’s website mentions that inaugural preparations, including the construction of the inaugural platform, were already underway when the Capitol was attacked. The cleanup was not part of the presidential transition, rather restoration of the Capitol.
The Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol breach left the building in disrepair. A viral image shows Capitol employees cleaning up after it was damaged and littered by a mob, not as preparation for Joe Biden’s inauguration. Debris was collected and turned over to the Justice Department; the fate of the flag in the photo is unclear. We rate the claim MISSING CONTEXT because the image of the flag alone with that description is misleading. 

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