It’s been just over one month since pro-Trump insurgents rioted at the U.S. Capitol, creating both physical and emotional damages. Many who survived the riots have spoken out about their personal experiences, including, as Daily Kos covered, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has done two live videos detailing her trauma. For those of us who followed the insurgency from home, we know that after a group of countless white people invaded the Capitol, custodial workers—including many people of color—were left to clean their mess.
Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley spoke to CNN host Jake Tapper about just that subject on Sunday morning, appearing on State of the Union. Her response is smart, moving, and emotional, and absolutely worth a watch. Let’s delve into it below.
Tapper referenced the one-month anniversary of the insurgency, as well as Donald Trump’s impeachment trial beginning this coming Tuesday. “You lived through the events of January sixth,” Tapper stated. “What do you say to people who say, ‘Come on, just move on’?”
“If we really believe that this is a moment of reckoning in every way, then we must act accordingly,” Pressley replied. “And that means that Donald J. Trump must be held accountable because he is culpable for having incited this insurrection by perpetuating this big lie. This House has twice done its job. He will forever be the twice impeached president by this Democratic-majority led House.
Now, the Senate must honor their oath and impeach Donald J. Trump to hold him accountable,” Pressley continued. “But also, to bar him from running for public office ever again. And then, we know that he had accomplices. Who told on themselves. In broad daylight. They aided and abetted this insurrection by perpetuating this big lie. And they must be expelled. And then we must continue to investigate, Jake, so that any individuals or agencies that enabled this insurrection are taken to account.
But let me just say this, for those that continue to feign great surprise about what happened on January 6th. As a Black woman, to be barricaded in my office, using office furniture and water bottles… On the ground, in the dark. That terror, those moments of terror, is familiar in a deep and ancestral way for me. And, I want us to do everything to ensure that a breach like this never occurs at the Capitol. But I want us to address the evil incurred that is white supremacy in this nation. This is not only about securing the Capitol to ensure that members, and our staffs, and custodial staff, and food services workers, are safe in the Capitol… It is that we are safe in America.
One of the images that I am haunted by,” Pressley continued, “is the Black custodial staff cleaning up the mess left by that violent white supremacist mob. That is a metaphor for America. We have been cleaning up after violent white supremacist mobs for generations. And it must end. So, impeach, expel, investigate.”
Tapper mentioned that some Congresspeople have expressed fear for their safety following the insurgency, and noted that they are not sharing Pressley’s location during the interview because of her “significant” security concerns and that many House colleagues blame rhetoric coming from some House Republicans. Surprising no one, Tapper mentioned Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.
“Simply put,” he asked. “Do you feel safe going to work?”
“Look, I feel safe,” Pressley said. “Living with threats and living with bigots, who are as vile in their rhetoric as they are in the policies that they seek and enact, and the harm that they seek to cause the most marginalized communities, Black Americans in particular, is not new. Again, this is familiar in an ancestral sort of way. So, it is not going to deter or obstruct me from doing my job for the American people.” Then Pressley discussed the importance of a COVID-19 response that leaves no one behind.
Here’s that clip.
On a related note, New Jersey Rep. Andy Kim tweeted about his personal experience cleaning up after the riots. The thread is quickly going viral and is well worth checking out, too.