AOC’s experience during the insurrection

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been scathing in her attacks of some House members and senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley for their roles in instigating and supporting the insurrectionists, calling for them to resign or be expelled from Congress. In her recounting of the details of what she personally went through, you can understand why. It is pretty harrowing.

In an account remarkably candid for an American lawmaker, Ocasio-Cortez recounted going into hiding as rioters scaled the Capitol on 6 January, hiding in a bathroom in her office while hearing banging on the walls and a man yelling: “Where is she? Where is she?” She had feared for her life, she told an Instagram Live audience of more than 150,000 people.

“I thought I was going to die,” she said. “And I had a lot of thoughts. I was thinking if this is the plan for me, then people will be able to take it from here.”

On Monday, she said she had been worried about the security situation for days, having been cautioned about possible violence by several people, including other lawmakers.

The incident at her office had occurred after she returned from receiving her Covid-19 vaccine, she said.

“I immediately realized I shouldn’t have gone into the bathroom. I should have gone in the closet,” she said. “Then I hear whoever was trying to get inside got into my office. I realize it’s too late.”

She said she had then heard yelling. “This was the moment I thought everything was over. I thought I was going to die.”
The congresswoman wiped away tears as she continued. “I start to look through the door hinge to see if I can see anything. I see this white man in a black beanie and yell again,” she said. “I have never been quieter in my entire life.”

A staffer had eventually told her it was safe to emerge from the bathroom where she was hiding, and a Capitol police officer had been present in her office. She and her team had left the office, she recalled, and had eventually found shelter in the offices of the California representative Katie Porter.

In her account she describes a Capital security officer she encountered as she emerged from her office during a lull who looked at her angrily so that she did not even know if he was a friend or foe.

Congresswoman Katie Porter describes sheltering AOC.

Porter said that she saw Ocasio-Cortez as buildings on Capitol Hill were evacuated leading up to pro-Trump demonstrators breaching the Capitol itself. The California lawmaker said Ocasio-Cortez asked if she and a staffer could come into Porter’s office.

“Alex is really usually like unfailingly polite and very personable, and she wasn’t even really talking to me. She was opening up doors and I was like ‘Can I help you? Like what are you looking for?’ And she said, ‘I’m looking for where I’m going to hide,’” Porter told MSNBC on Monday.

Porter said she was waiting in her office for six hours during the riot and that no law enforcement or other officials came to check that she and her staffers were safe. 

“Capitol Police never accounted for every member’s safety, and so we heard voices in the hallway. We didn’t know what they were, whether those were police officers [or] whether those were intruders, and so we just we stayed dark,” Porter said, adding that she and others in her office sat quietly “in the hope that they [would] just run on by.”

The more details I hear of what went on, the more astonishing it seems that no members of Congress were actually attacked or even killed. Those who are now trying to minimize what happened should be ashamed of themselves. If one has gone through something like what AOC and others went through, where a rampaging mob is swarming around looking for targets to attack (and I have been through something similar), it is infuriating to hear those who were never threatened say that things were not that bad and that we should let bygones be bygones and move on.


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