A year after scores of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol to overthrow the result of the last presidential election, Asian American Congressional leaders have released statements to remind the nation of the importance of safeguarding democracy.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) was in the tunnels under the Capitol Complex heading to the senate floor when the breach occurred. She wound up in a secure location with Democratic and Republican colleagues.
An emotional Duckworth gave a patriotic statement following the siege. On Thursday, she called for an end to voter suppression.
“A year after I gave this speech, red states continue to push bill after bill to weaken our democracy and Republicans continue to spread the same lies that fomented the insurrection,” Duckworth wrote on Twitter. “But I will not yield. Power belongs to the people.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) was in the Senate chambers when security ordered them to evacuate. She also ended up in a safe room for about five hours, watching the terrifying scenes unfold on TV.
In a tweet on Thursday, she thanked law enforcement and called for the passing of voting rights legislation.
“Today we pay tribute to the Capitol Police, D.C. Metro Police, national guard and all who acted bravely and quickly that day to save lives,” Hirono tweeted. “We must honor their service by doing our part to protect democracy and pass voting rights legislation.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) was also trapped for five hours during the breach. She used chairs to barricade her door as an angry mob wreaked havoc outside.
In a statement, Meng described Jan. 6, 2021 as a “shocking” and “harrowing” day. She remembered fearing for her life and calling loved ones to ask them to pray for her.
“Many questions about January 6 remain unanswered; from who was involved, the security, coordination and communications failures that occurred, and the actions of former President Trump and his apparent refusal to stop the chaos,” Meng said. “It is essential for the American people to have accountability and the truth.”
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.)
Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) made headlines in the aftermath of the siege after he was photographed cleaning the Capitol building.
“I was just really affected emotionally. I felt this kind of heightened, kind of supercharged kind of patriotism that I just felt take over,” Kim told the Associated Press at the time. “When you see something you love that’s broken you want to fix it.”
On Thursday, Kim penned a visual thread on Twitter, detailing his experience and calling for unity.
“Today we remember a year ago, but I propose that going forward we make Jan. 6 a day of common good,” Kim wrote. “That we use Jan. 6 to renew our understanding and appreciation for our democracy. The goal is not to reset the clock to Jan. 5, but instead to understand clearly the job in front of us. Our job is to be caretakers. Our job is to heal this country and hand it off to our successors.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif. 27)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif. 27) was in her office when the rioters broke into the building. She locked the door, turned off the lights and closed the blinds.
Chu spent eight hours trapped in her room. She condemned the event in a new statement Thursday.
“The insurrection on Jan. 6 was planned,” Chu said. “It was deliberate and it was actively encouraged by Donald Trump and his party, because they’d rather resort to violence than lose an election.
“This threat cannot be forgotten. As Ben Franklin said, we have ‘a Republic, if we [sic] can keep it.’”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif. 33)
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif. 33) was also in his office when Capitol Police came in and ordered him to evacuate. He took the tunnel and ended up in Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.)’s office, where he spent the next several hours watching the siege on TV.
In a new statement, Lieu said Jan. 6 will “forever serve as a reminder that our democracy is only as strong as its most fervent defenders.” He called the mob, Trump and lawmakers who promoted the insurrection “traitors.”
“In America, we settle political disagreements through voting, not violence. Those of us that value American ideals and institutions must continue to cherish and guard our democracy and the freedoms it bestows,” Lieu said.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) was in the House chamber when the breach took place. She eventually wound up in a room with Republicans who refused to wear masks — people she blames for the COVID-19 diagnosis she later received.
She called for an end to voter suppression in a tweet on Friday.
“On Jan. 6th, I didn’t know if I’d make it out alive or if our democracy itself would survive,” Jayapal wrote. “A year later, we must do all we can to protect our democracy by passing voting rights legislation — to fight back against voter suppression and the Big Lie.”
Featured Image via Sen. Tammy Duckworth (left) and Rep. Andy Kim (right)