Trauma from Jan. 6 hangs over for lawmakers – The Denver Post

WASHINGTON – Long after most other lawmakers had been rushed to safety, they lay on the hard marble floor and ducked in cover.

Trapped in the gallery in the house and occupying balcony seats banned from the public because of COVID-19, about three dozen House Democrats were the last to leave the hall on January 6 and testify as certification of a presidential election gave way to a violent uprising .

As the father approached and the troublemakers tried to break down the doors, they called their families. They fought for provisional weapons and mentally prepared to fight. Many thought they could die.

“When I looked up, I had this realization that we were trapped,” the rep said. Jason Crow, D-Colo., A former Army Ranger who served three missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. “They had evacuated the floor of the house first. And they forgot about us.”

The legislators were bound together by circumstances and shared a unique trauma that was their own, and they were both witnesses and victims of an unprecedented attack on American democracy. Along with a small number of employees and members of the media, they remained in the chamber while the Capitol Police made an effort to hold back the billowing, shouting crowd of supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Lawmakers were finally brought to safety about an hour after the siege began.

Interviewed by The Associated Press before this week’s anniversary of the attack, 10 of the members of the House, who were in the gallery, spoke of being deeply shaken by their experience, viscerally recalling the sight and sounds in the midst of the chaos.

They clearly remember the loud, horn-like hum from their gas masks. The explosive crack of tear gas in the hallways outside. The screams of officers saying they should stay down. The thunderous beatings on the doors below. Glass shattered as the troublemakers slammed through a window. The buttons rustle ominously on the locked doors just a few feet behind them.

And most indelibly, the loud clap of a gunshot that echoes across the hollow chamber.

“I’ve heard a lot of shots in my time and it was very clear what it was,” Crow said. “I knew things were seriously escalating.”

The shot was fired by Officer Michael Byrd and killed Ashli ​​Babbitt, a Trump supporter from California who tried to crawl through the broken window of a door leading to the house’s chamber. Both the Department of Justice and the Capitol Police investigated the shooting and refused to prosecute.

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