Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) detailed the play-by-play of the moments she thought she was going to die on Jan. 6, when armed, pro-Trump rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.
The lawmaker started off the live video on her Instagram page Monday night by saying that she was a survivor of sexual assault and that “when we go through trauma, trauma compounds.”
She described how the threat of the gathering Trump supporters in Washington was evident in the days leading up to Jan. 6, the day an armed mob stormed the Capitol where lawmakers were set to certify the results of the U.S. election. Five people died in the riots, including a Capitol Police officer.
On Monday, a group of Trump supporters heckled Ocasio-Cortez as she got into her car outside the Capitol. On Tuesday, she saw even bigger crowds gathered, and because it “felt actively volatile and dangerous,” she took off her congressional pin so she would be less easily identifiable.
But it was Wednesday, the day of the deadly riot, that she thought she was “going to die,” she said.
Early Wednesday afternoon, Ocasio-Cortez and her legislative director were alone in her office when they heard “these huge violent bangs on my door ... like someone was trying to break the door down,” she said. Her staffer told her to “run and hide,” so she went into the bathroom and stood behind the door.
“I start to hear these yells of ‘Where is she, where is she?’ and I just thought to myself, they got inside,” Ocasio-Cortez recounted. “This was the moment where I thought everything was over.”
Through a crack in the door, she saw a white man in a black beanie opening the door to her office and yelling “Where is she?” “I have never been quieter in my entire life,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
It turned out the man was an officer with the Capitol Police who hadn’t identified himself. Later, Ocasio-Cortez’s legislative director told her that he, too, didn’t know if the officer “was there to help us or hurt us.”
Following the officer’s instruction, the lawmaker and her staffer ran to another area, where they could hear rioters yelling from outside and banging on doors, trying to break in. “I’m fully expecting one of these insurrectionists to turn the corner with a gun and that it would be over,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
They found the office of Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.), who let them in and provided her colleague with a jacket and sneakers “to blend in with the crowd,” as Ocasio-Cortez put it. The staffers barricaded the doors with couches in case rioters broke in, and they waited. Eventually, they made it out safely.
Last month, Ocasio-Cortez revealed that she had a “close encounter” and thought she was “going to die” on the day of the violent insurrection. She described the right-wing mob’s attack as “an extremely traumatizing event,” adding it was “not an exaggeration to say that many members of the House were nearly assassinated.”
Since Ocasio-Cortez was elected to Congress in 2018, she has been the frequent target of attacks from Trump, Republican lawmakers and right-wing pundits.
“My story is one of many stories … there were food service workers who were afraid for their lives … custodial workers that had to clean up after the wreckage of white supremacists … many of them Black and brown, immigrants,” Ocasio-Cortez said of the events of Jan. 6.
And to those who would tell her and others to “move on,” Ocasio-Cortez said: “We cannot move on without accountability. We cannot heal without accountability.”