From the windows of the House chamber on January 6, lawmakers could see the mob of diehard, violent Trump loyalists climbing the wall outside the Capitol building. In the Senate, the militants were reportedly seconds away from meeting Senators face to face. On Tuesday night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) shared how she feared for her life that day — not only because of the far right attackers, but also because she was afraid that fellow lawmakers who opposed her would expose her location.
In an Instagram Live session, Ocasio-Cortez said that she experienced a “traumatizing event.” “I had a very close encounter where I thought I was going to die,” she said. “At the end of your life — and all of these thoughts come rushing to you. And that’s what happened to a lot of us on Wednesday…. I did not know if I was going to make it to the end of that day alive.” Evidently, Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t the only one experiencing a close call that day.
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“It is not an exaggeration to say that many, many members of the House were nearly assassinated,” Ocasio-Cortez added. Aides and the children of congressmembers were also present that day and were also in immediate danger, she says.
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As congressmembers were being hurriedly evacuated, staffers in Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s (D-Massachusetts) office were boarding up doors to stay safe and trying to locate the panic buttons. But, as Pressley’s chief of staff told the Boston Globe, “Every panic button in [the] office had been torn out — the whole unit.” Pressley, as part of the progressive “Squad,” has received numerous racist death threats during her time in Congress, so the members of her staff were used to safety drills.
Though there have been no reports of injured politicians from January 6, the threat from the fascist mob was tangible. In addition to the five deaths caused by the unrest, investigations and pictures show that some of the militants had violent intentions in storming the Capitol that day.
The mob was filmed chanting “hang Mike Pence”; a man in the Senate chamber was photographed carrying zip ties that are specifically made to restrain people; another Trump loyalist showed up in D.C. with numerous weapons and ammo, reportedly with the intent to kill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Ocasio-Cortez places blame for the attacks directly in the hands of her many Republican colleagues who instigated and egged on the mob in the time leading up to the event. “They don’t give a damn about the law,” she said. “They don’t give a damn about order. They don’t give a damn about safety. They give a damn about white supremacy…. They lust for power more than they care about democracy.”
Calls for Republicans involved in the incitement of the coup attempt to be stripped of power have grown more widespread since January 6.
Ocasio-Cortez, along with many senators, has called on Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) to resign or be removed; Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona), who was named by a “Stop the Steal” organizer as a conspirator in the coup attempt, has been called out by his own siblings who say he should be removed. Cruz, Hawley and Gosar, along with six other Republican senators and 138 other Republican representatives voted to overturn the election results despite no evidence that the results were fraudulent when Congress reconvened later that day on January 6.
“This is how democracy can burn,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “It is fragile. We must cherish it. And they didn’t. And they don’t. So they need to leave.”