Latina Reps. document sheltering-in-place on one of the darkest days in modern U.S. history
Four people are dead after an organized domestic terrorist attack on the Capitol and a failed coup attempt.
As domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in support of lame-duck President Donald Trump, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX) shared the scenes in a chaotic video that now has well over 7 million views, taken by journalist Jazmine Ulloa of the Boston Globe.
Nothing can be heard over the shouts of a standoff between a single Black security officer trying to fend off a crowd of rioters gaining ground as they infiltrated the building.
In the video, Ulloa seeks higher ground up the staircase and is finally forced to stop recording in order to seek shelter.
“I’m currently sheltering in place,” wrote Rep. Escobar. “The Capitol Building has been breached and both chambers are locked down. This is the chaos and lawlessness [President Donald Trump] has created.”
— Rep. Veronica Escobar (@RepEscobar) January 6, 2021
This was immediately before rioters breached the Statuary Hall, and started to force their way into the locked doors of the House chamber.
“We were told by Capitol Police to get down on our knees,” Escobar continued. It was then that the threat of outside violence was imminent. Having been in the middle of an Electoral College debate, Escobar added that members of Congress were told to get gas masks under their seats ready to prepare for tear gas.
“I’m okay,” were the first words issued by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, after hours of silence.
She was barricaded in an undisclosed location with fellow members of Congress to stay safe. In a subsequent post, Rep. AOC promised to disclose details at a later point and steered eyes to the center of the democracy at stake.
Because of the breach of the capitol, Congress was delayed from formally confirming Biden’s Electoral College victory.
“For now, we must focus on [the] task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart,” Rep. AOC continued.
Was barricaded in for several hours. I’ll tell y’all about it later.
For now, we must focus on task at hand: to preserve the integrity of our democracy, hold accountable those responsible for their attempts to subvert our nation’s elections and shred our Constitution apart.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) January 7, 2021
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) was in the House chambers when she heard of the Capitol Breach. All congressional members were told to find a safe place to shelter.
Describing the scene as “sheer insanity,” she told The City of hearing explosions and seeing crowds of people going through the barricades.
“I saw people running, coming near the lawn of the Capitol. And so I immediately came back to my office, because at that moment we were getting notifications from police to shelter.” Velazquez told reporters.
“Unreal,” is how Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA) described the event.
She got the orders from a Capitol loudspeaker to stay in her office and away from any windows once the Capitol was breached. She shared the scenes from her office, where a line of police cars could be seen arriving.
Sheltering in place in my office. Got instructions on the loud speaker to stay in office and away from windows. We have seen more police arrive from office window but this unreal. pic.twitter.com/vKUEo5RrVY
— Nanette D. Barragán (@RepBarragan) January 6, 2021
Once the events of the day had subdued and the debate was allowed to resume on the House floor, Barragán expressed her frustrations on Twitter after some lawmakers exhibited a readiness to move on from the events of the afternoon as if it was just another day in the office, normalizing the insurrection.
“After listening to debate resume on the House floor I’m sorry to say I don’t see many changes. Some treating the attack on the People’s House today and on democracy as just another day. It’s unbelievable. It’s sad,” Barragán wrote on Twitter.
Police, as it was widely discussed on social media, approached the mobs lightly, in stark contrast to the extreme force repeatedly shown towards Black Lives Matter protestors last summer.
The National Guard was delayed in its deployment, and in some videos documenting the initial breach on barricades, officers feebly pushed the crowds away.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi herself advised Congress to move on from the afternoon, even after a man was captured posing at her desk.
The Washington Post later revealed the man, Richard Barnett of Arkansas had posted on Facebook that he “came into this world kicking and screaming, covered in someone else’s blood,” adding, “I’m not afraid to go out the same way.”
Were the coup better organized, reporters say it could have been a serious hostage situation on members of Congress.
Because of the delays — both in part by Republican opposition and the pro-Trump riots — it wasn’t until after 3:00 a.m. on Thursday morning that Congress finalized Biden’s victory.
“The job is done,” Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia wrote in the early hours of the morning. “We did what we came here to do, and most importantly, we were not deterred.”