Southern California House lawmakers knew they would see history on January 6, 2021.
They just don’t know what kind of things they will witness.
Local lawmakers were on the floor of the House of Representatives, in the gallery overlooking it and in their offices near the US Capitol when a large demonstration turned into a rally and then into a demonstration. people scramble to enter the building in an effort to prevent lawmakers from certifying that Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, many of which have alleged that irregular elections and changes to the election process were made. to react to pandemic caused by corona virus is illegal, seriously harms the election, or both.
Due to COVID-19 concerns, Speaker Nancy Pelosi allows only a handful of representatives at a time on the House floor. Others wait in the gallery above or return to their offices.
About 10 minutes before the House was convened at 1 p.m., Representative Mark Takano, D-Riverside, went to one of the office building cafeterias to have lunch while waiting for his turn to go down to the voting floor.
“I started getting messages from voters and friends, asking if I was okay,” recalls Takano a year later. At the time, “I didn’t get a chance to see any of the media.”
In the end, he said, he brought his lunch from place to place during the day, following repeated orders to evacuate and shelter in place as the situation at the Capitol evolved.
Representative Ken Calvert, R-Corona, was in his office as the House of Representatives began session.
“I looked out the window and saw all these people walking up Independence (Ave) towards the Capitol,” he said in a recent interview. “I didn’t think too much of it until suddenly, a while later, I heard that some of the barriers had come down and people were breaking into the Capitol. … I have been in Washington for a long time. I have never seen anything like it in my career.”
Representative Adam Schiff, D-Glendale, was in the House as lawmakers debated the Arizona election results.
Schiff recalls: “The first sign I noticed that something was wrong was that the speaker was suddenly not in her chair. “I knew she was meant to preside over the entire session, and I thought that was weird. Then I saw Capitol Police officers burst into the floor and grab our number two, Steny Hoyer. … I remember thinking to myself, ‘I’ve never seen Steny move so fast.’
Representative Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino, was also on the floor of the House at the same time.
“We showed each other our phones upstairs, did you see this on Twitter? Like, it said, they broke, it said the crowd was huge. So we were all learning this quickly,” he recalls.
Representative Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks, returns to his office after the family voted to certify the results of the Arizona election, where he was met with protest – on office television.
“I said, ‘Hey, I’m turning the sound down. Sherman recalled. “The thing that scared me the most after that was finding out that some people were shouting, ‘Mike Pence Cave,’ and others were shouting, ‘Hey, where’s Nancy?’ If I had known that at the time, I would have been scared, or much more scared for both myself and the country.”
Shortly after Pelosi and other congressional leaders were removed from the House floor by security, rioters pounded on the door to the room, about 20 feet from Aguilar.
“I keep a small notebook with me,” he said, “and I wrote in it, at 2:34 p.m., “I’m scared now.” “
The US Capitol Police are back on the floor with increasingly dire warnings.
“There were rioters in the buildings,” Schiff said. The police wanted lawmakers to take their gas masks and prepare to hit the ground, he recalls.
“I took out the gas hoods under the seats and it took a while to figure out how to open them,” he added. “In the end the police told us they had a way out, they needed us to get out.”
Everyone trying to get out the door got stuck in traffic, says Schiff, so he stepped back to wait for the crowd to disperse.
“A couple of Republicans came up to me and said, ‘You can’t let them see you,’” Schiff said. “’I know these people; I can talk to these people. You are in a completely different category. ‘ “
Schiff eventually left beside a Republican colleague carrying a wooden stand for hand sanitizer.
“He ripped it off the floor and was ready to use it as a club,” Schiff said. “I said, ‘Are you really that nervous?’ And he said ‘I think I just heard gunshots. ” And I think he was right, I think that’s when Ashli Babbitt was shot. ”
Babbitt was one of five people who died in the riots. She was fatally shot while trying to climb through a broken window of a barricaded door in the Capitol as lawmakers were being carried out.
Representative Jay Obernolte, R-Big Bear, was in his office when rioters stormed the Capitol. When he served in Sacramento, his office was on the same floor as the largest hearing room in the California Legislature.
“Very often, we have lines of very excited people waiting to speak in the hearing room. And it’s not unusual for them to accuse me, even when I’m on the same side of the issue,” Obernolte said. “But this was different in quality.”
Locked in his office and protected by Capitol Police, Obernolte said he never felt threatened, but he said he was “extremely worried” for the officers. An officer, Brian Sicknick, died of a stroke the day after he suffered a stroke attacked by two men in the riot. At least three police officers responded to the riot Suicide in the following year.
Congressman Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert, recounted that he was in the gallery when the rioters broke in. One of the last legislators to be evacuated, Ruiz said he remembers hearing gunshots and breaking glass. He and others have looked at mass shooting protocols, which require lawmakers and staff to hide if they can, flee if it is safe to do so, and – in the worst case scenario – rush. on shooters.
“People understood that meant some of us would die to save most of us” when it came to plunging into shooters, Ruiz said. “I said, ‘We’re in, are we going to do this?’ And all agree. At the time, the reality of death was the closest I’ve ever had. ”
Congressman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, was in the gallery with Ruiz.
“Trying to hear the radio traffic coming from the officers’ stations was impossible,” she recalls. “Even with 17 years of experience as a 911 dispatcher, I couldn’t understand what the officers were shouting, because it was all ‘help’, ‘help”. “
After being evacuated, Ruiz said, he took a flight home to California. Other passengers, wearing red Make America Great Again hats, appreciate each other, sticking together about their participation in the protest.
Screenwriters Ryan Carter, Jeff Horseman, and Brooke Staggs contributed to this story.
https://www.sbsun.com/2022/01/05/8-southern-california-house-lawmakers-remember-jan-6-riot-at-u-s-capitol/ 8 Southern California House legislators remember January 6 riots at US Capitol – San Bernardino Sun